League of Women Voters Book Release – Feb. 5

I haven’t talked much about this book because it will be of interest to a very niche group of readers, but the book I wrote for the St. Louis Metro League of Women Voters is out! We’re celebrating its release this coming Sunday. So if you live in St. Louis, I’d love to see you!

About the book

Empowering voters. Defending democracy. Improving lives.

“Raising Our Voices: League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis 1960-2022” demonstrates how League members advocated for change during six decades of tremendous upheaval. As a sequel to Avis Carlson’s history “The First 40 Years,” this book covers the next 62 years of League work. It includes member advocacy on controversial issues such as busing and school discrimination, the Equal Rights Amendment, election and campaign finance reform, voter suppression, and the National Popular Vote.

In addition to these headline-makers, the book chronicles the everyday work of the League to improve the St. Louis community and protect the rights of its citizens. Each decade includes information on League efforts focused on:

  • Voter services
  • Key issues such as education and the environment
  • Redistricting
  • Women’s history

In addition, the book profiles more than 20 key League members in honor of their contributions that made a difference in those decades. Not just an essential read for League members, “Raising Our Voices” is an important resource for the entire St. Louis area and will inspire women’s history buffs from coast to coast. Part local history, part collective memoir, it captures the valuable and ongoing work of this organization to educate and empower voters and improve the status of women in the St. Louis area, the state of Missouri, and nationwide.

Buy the book

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Please note that all proceeds go to the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis.

Fearless Females in History: Hazel Garland

“We tell the stories. We tell the stories of the people. We told the stories of Colored people, we told the stories of Negroes, we told the stories of Black people and now we tell the stories of African-Americans. Does it really matter, sports, social, entertainment, or political. They are all our stories, and if we don’t tell it, who will?” – Hazel Garland

Hazel Hill Garland was the nation’s first Black female editor-in-chief at a newspaper and fought tirelessly to “bridge the gap between races” and spotlight how Black people were treated in the media.


Hazel Barbara Maxine Hill was born on January 28, 1913, in Terre Haute, Indiana, to George and Hazel Hill. Her parents were farmers who would go on to have 15 additional children, many of whom Hazel helped raise. In the 1920s the family moved to Pennsylvania, where her father took work as a coal miner. Though Hazel was smart and loved school, her parents forced her to drop out of high school so that her brother could continue on in school; they could only afford one and hoped he would go to college. Her father also believed female education to be a waste because a woman would get married and stop working anyway. Hazel took a job as a maid and eventually her brother earned a college scholarship, only to turn it down for a relationship that would eventually fail.

Hazel was crushed, but didn’t let disappointment stop her. When she wasn’t working, she could be found in the library reading, continuing her education in her own way. She also danced, sang and played the drums. Fittingly, she met her future husband, Percy Andrew Garland, a trombone player, at a party. They married in January 1935. Their only child, Phyllis, was born the following October

As was typical of the time, Hazel became a housewife and focused on raising her daughter. Her mother-in-law urged her to join some local volunteer organizations and she became club reporter for several; her duties were to take notes on events and send them to local newspapers. The editors of the Pitsburgh Courier, a widely-read Black newspaper. liked what they saw and hired her as a stringer for $2 an article. She was so prolific that they gave her her own column, called Tri-City News, which covered all manner of community events, including some of the only positive news about Black citizens in the media

In 1946, Hazel grabbed the opportunity for journalism training offered by the paper. She began covering for journalists who were on vacation and the quality of her writing, combined with her trademark conversational tone, soon won her a role as a general assignments reporter. The men were unhappy with this and sought revenge by sending her to cover a murder at a local brothel. Hazel was not upset by this; she simply paid a male colleague to accompany her (for safety reasons) and wrote the story.

Soon, Hazel’s reporting on events from the housing projects to the richest of Black society were reprinted in both local and national editions of the paper, where they would appear for the next 42 years. In 1951, she became a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of The Girl Friend’s, Inc., a prestigious civic society for Black women.

In 1952, she became feature editor of the paper’s new magazine section, the first woman to ever hold that position in any section of the paper. She was sent to rural South Carolina to chronicle the work of Maude E. Callen, a community nurse and midwife who had both white and Black clients. Hazel won the 1953 New York Newspaper Guild Page One Award for Journalism for her efforts.

Two years later, she began a television column called Video Vignettes, in which she made a point to note when black performers or broadcasters were dismissed or when shows relevant to the community were cancelled. She sent copies of her columns to the network and station managers to quietly make them aware of how Black people were being treated. The column was so popular that it ran for 33 years, making it one of the longest-running newspaper television columns in history. In 1961, Hazel and her friend and fellow reporter Toki Schalk Johnson, became the first two Black members of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh.

The paper ran into financial trouble in the early 1960s and in 1966 was bought out by John H. Sengstacke, publisher of the Chicago Defender, and renamed the New Pittsburgh Courier.. Hazel continued her work as editor of the entertainment and women’s sections of the paper, also helping with layout, article illustration and design. Later, one of Hazel’s fellow writers said that without her, the paper would have gone out of business.

In 1972 the publisher promoted her to city editor and again to editor-in-chief in 1974, becoming the first Black woman in the United States to hold such a position. Despite being harassed by her fellow journalists who couldn’t handle reporting to a woman, much less a Black woman, Hazel was named Editor of the Year by the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Hazel spent the next year updating the paper, adding new beats and making sure existing sections appealed to audiences of all races. She also advocated for students to study and pursue careers in journalism. She was much-honored for this work. In 1975 she received a National Headliner award from Women in Communications and In 1976 the New Pittsburgh Courier won the John B. Russwurm award for the best national African-American newspaper. She was also honored by the Jewish women’s group ORT America for “bridging the gap between races.”

In 1977, Hazel was forced to retire as editor due to illness, but continued writing columns for the paper and working as an advisor to the publisher. She also served on the Pulitzer Prize selection committee in 1979. In 1987, she and Mal Goode, a national broadcaster, started the Garland-Goode Scholarship for journalism students.

Hazel died on April 5, 1988, at the age of 75 of a heart attack following surgery on a cerebral aneurysm.

Poetry for MLK Day

Tomorrow, the company I work for is holding a special event to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was asked to write and present a poem and I wanted to share it with all of you today–the day the holiday is celebrated.

The Dream Lives On

94 years ago, a babe’s cry lit up the Atlanta sky
“I have a dream,” it said.
But the world wasn’t ready to hear.

Like the Lord he adored
This King would have to grow and perish
Before we would take heed.

But between his first breath and his last
He would build a lasting legacy.


Though he never asked for fame,
This King was crowned in Montgomery.
Did you hear is voice among the 40,000?
Demanding justice, demonstrating peace.

Marching to Washington,
Did you hear his voice raised in song?
Calling for a peaceful revolution,
For freedom and equality.

Perhaps from steps of the Lincoln Memorial his words reached you.
In a ringing timbre amid the tolling bells.
“I have a dream,” he proclaimed.
The world held its breath and finally listened.

When the echoes faded, sound erupted.
From one side, tears of joy and cries of “Hallelujah.”
On the other, words of hate that do not bear repeating.
For we hear them to this very day.

They clashed with fists and water hoses and human barricades
Trying to keep out, trying to protect
Outdated ways and modes of thinking
Seeing only black and white
Ignoring the humanity underneath.

Amid the screams and cries of pain—still he called for unity.
Equality was not a child of violence
But the progeny of peaceful civil disobedience
Birthed in love, for the greater good of all.

His words were not honey to all ears.
Rather than balm to soothe, they rankled.
Who was this man to make such demands?

Finally, a single gunshot
Said what all their other bigoted words could not:


65 years ago, darkness fell in Tennessee.
Like his lifeblood bleeding out,
It crept across our country and the world.
Silence, shock, and tears greeted it.
Just like they hoped it would.

But then—a miracle.

Instead of despair, righteous anger.
Instead of apathy, action.
Rather than ending a movement, they fueled it.

When the light went out behind his eyes
It lit up inside 7 billion souls.
Like the prophets of old,
What was once his is now ours.

His body may have died
But he lives on.
In you.
And you.
And you.
Yes, even you.
And in me.

So today, let us open not only our ears
To listen, but our hearts as well.
For they compel us to action.
To create the world of which this great man dreamed.

Today, let us all be Martin Luther King Jr. in our communities
As we echo his words:

“Let freedom ring from the streets of Ferguson.
Let freedom ring from the rebuilt ruins of Tulsa.
Let freedom ring from the cobblestones of Charlotte.
Let us join hands—Black, white, brown, and all colors in between.
Let us raise our voices until we drown out those spewing hate
And like Dr. King, we can cry:
‘Free at last! Free at last!
Of racism and bigotry and fear and hate,
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

I’m a Calendar Girl – For Charity!

I’m happy to report Fierce Females in Television: A Cultural History is done and in to my editor. Now I finally have time to tell you about a special project I’ve been involved with for the last few months.

I’ve been working with Ky Bragdon and a team of amazing people to create and market the first fundraiser for the Kyndness Foundation, of which I’m also a founding board member. Our fundraiser is a set of two 16-month calendars that cover 2023 and the first half of 2024. All of the models are female-presenting TikTok influencers. One is sweet and one is spicy. The sweet one is more modest and the spicy one is, well, spicier (but no full nudity).

And I’m Miss May 2024 on the Sweet Calendar! I’ve kind of always wanted to be a calendar girl, truth be told. But I hadn’t yet found a way to do it that wouldn’t harm either of my jobs. That’s why I chose the sweet calendar.

The calendars are $20 each and all funds are going to charity. We are splitting all funds equally between Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, LGBTQ Freedom Fund, and The Born This Way Foundation. You also have the option to donate instead of or in addition to purchasing.

If you’re interested, please purchase soon, as they are going quickly! (We don’t know yet if or when they will order more.)



2023 Goals and Word of the Year: Health

In 2021 I told myself I would work like a maniac for two years (2021 included) in order to build my career. I’ve done that in spades and I’m not going to lie, I’m exhausted. I can’t keep going the way I am and hope to live to write all the books I want to. That’s why I want 2023 to be all about me–not in a selfish way, but in a self-care, finding balance kind of way.

I picked my Word of the Year several weeks ago after a phone call with my agent in which she begged me (her word) to slow down. She made me promise not to write anything new until at least April so that I can focus on marketing and give my creative self a break. The moment I realized someone had given me permission to stop working at a breakneck pace, I felt so much peace come over me. My muscles unclenched and started thinking of things I want to do for fun. (Remember that concept?)

So that is why my 2023 Word of the Year is health. I’m going to focus on my physical health by eating right and making time to work out; my mental health my slowing down on the writing and doing some things just for fun; and my spiritual health by praying and meditating more and reading related books that interest me.

Now, that being said, you know I am not one to let moss grow and I have lots of books coming out in 2023, so here are my writing and personal goals:


  • Edit Catherine’s Mercy
  • Do additional marketing for Sex and the City
  • Market and successfully release:
    • Raising Our Voices (the League of Women Voters book)
    • America’s Forgotten Suffragists
    • Catherine’s Mercy
    • The project I haven’t talked about yet
    • The Arthurian Ethics book (if published in 2023)
    • Fierce Females in Television (if published in 2023)
  • Write
    • Revolutionary War book (started)
    • 1920s book (research started)
    • Stretch goal: WWII (halfway done)
  • Attend the Historical Novel Society Conference in June
  • Speak as a member of the Missouri Speaker’s Bureau
  • Learn how to better use TikTok
  • Continue writing poetry


  • Enjoy life!
  • Lose about 70 lbs
  • Get into a habit exercise and healthy eating
  • Pay down debt (I promised my Chicago friends I would move there by the end of 2024)
  • Get reaquatinted with my spiritual side
  • Celebrate 20 years at my day job and keep it until I can write full time
  • As for fun: go see more concerts (Placebo in April in Chicago!), theatre (Les Mis and Six this month!), dance, get into gaming again (maybe on Twitch?), etc.

And yes, this is me slowing down! 😉 Obviously, I have no idea what the year will bring, but I’m looking forward to seizing every opportunity and being grateful for every day and every blessing I’m given! Hope all of you have a great 2023!

2022 Wrap Up

I’m poking my head out of the writing cave (“Fierce Females in Television: A Cultural History” is due January 6) long enough to do quick review of 2022 and ponder what may be to come in 2023. Do I really have time to do this? No–the book is going slowly and while there is no way it will be done tonight (my original self-imposed deadline), I will meet the real one.

Okay, so, yeah, how is it New Year’s Eve already?

Oh yeah, I’ve been on so many book deadlines this year I can barely breathe. (I can hear my past baby author self sarcastically saying “I wish I had that problem!”) In 2022 I:

  • Wrote 2 books (Catherine’s Mercy and Fierce Females in Television) and 2 book chapters (for the Arthurian ethics book and one I haven’t announced yet)
  • Edited 3 books (The League of Women Voters Book, Sex and the City, America’s Forgotten Suffragists) and 2 two book chapters (same as above)
  • Published the Sex and the City book and held a big book release party for it (I know, I still owe you guys a post about it and photos…it is on my to-do list)
  • Spent some time on a ghostwriting project that ultimately didn’t work out, which I’m honestly glad about for multiple reasons, the least of which is one less thing on my already over-full plate

I also:

  • Celebrated by 19th anniversary at my day job.
  • Attended 2 conferences (Chanticleer and the Midwest Pop Culture Association.
  • Completed 8 speaking/teaching events.
  • Won 2 awards.
  • Started using TikTok and Twitch.
  • Left Twitter
  • Was hospitalized for blood clots and finally got COVID
  • Continued writing poetry
  • Read around 50 books (not including those for research)
  • Helped start a foundation (more on that next year)
  • Did something I never thought I would do (more on that soon as well)

My head is spinning just remembering it all.

So, as is tradition, let’s check out how I did on my goals for the year, which I couldn’t even recall until I went back to that blog post.

2022 Goals

Contracted (meaning I’m contractually obligated to do these)

  • Research and write the Fierce Females book (due Jan. 13, 2023) DONE
  • Edit League of Women Voters book (Jan 2022) DONE
  • Edit Minor bio (Jan- March 2002) DONE
  • Edit SATC book (TBD) DONE

Other Writing-Related

  • Project involving Daughter of Destiny (Jan 2022) THIS FELL THROUGH
  • Write and record Historical Fiction Master Class (Jan 2022) THIS HAS BEEN POSTPONED
  • Attend the Chanticleer Conference (June 2022) DONE
    • WWII (halfway done)
    • Isolde
    • Revolutionary War book
    • Female inventor
  • A few fun side projects:
    • Family cookbook (using recipes from my parents, grandparents and other relatives) STARTED IT BUT NEVER GOT BACK TO IT
    • Studying tarot and other metaphysical topics DIDN’T TOUCH THIS
    • Dream Atelier through the School of Self image STARTED BUT ABANDONED
    • Write my own magazine based on the Live Like An Editor workshop from last year PART-WAY DONE
    • Continue writing poetry DONE


  • Continue taking classes through the School of Self Image. This is doing so much for all areas of my life. It’s cheaper than therapy and makes me very happy. I DID THIS FOR A WHILE BUT THEN QUIT TO SAVE MONEY
  • Lose 55 lbs (I’m on a weight control plan with my doctor and am working with a health coach. Focusing on eating well, medicine, mindset, and exercise) UM, THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN, BUT NOT FOR LACK OF TRYING. I WEIGH MORE NOW THAN I EVER HAVE.
  • Learn to dance – whatever I can do without a partner. I LOVE to dance, need to move, and I want to feel sexy again. DIDN’T DO THIS
  • Find balance between work and writing; slowly start to shift in the direction of more writing. I have a long-term goal of becoming a full time author. ME, BALANCE?
  • Pay off debt – This is not only smart, but it is necessary for me to be able to move. I have three cities in mind where I’d like to live in the future. I’m not ready to add that to my list yet, but this is a baby step in that direction. YES AND NO. I MADE PROGRESS BUT I ALSO MADE MORE BILLS
  • Assuming COVID lets us: attend more cultural events like theatre, ballet, opera, symphony, dance, etc. DONE!

If you are still reading this, I’m impressed (thank you)! Despite some ups and downs, 2022 was really good year for me. Tonight I’m going to finish cleaning my house, pour some prosecco and continue writing. Here’s to 2023 being an even better year than 2022! *clinks glass* Happy New Year everyone!

Fearless Females in History: Ester Eggersten Peterson

“We have a tremendous responsibility to future generations to leave an accurate record of our history, one which lays bare not only the facts, but the process of change.” – Ester Eggersten Peterson

While you may not know Ester’s name, you’ve got a lot to thank her for, from consumer protections we now take for granted and the Equal Pay Act, which attempted to level the financial playing field between men and women in the workplace. The National Women’s Hall of Fame has called her “one of the nation’s most effective and beloved catalysts for change.”


Ester Eggersten was born on December 9, 1906, in Provo, Utah. Her parents were immigrants from Denmark who were not well off. Her father was the local superintendent of schools and her mother kept boarders at her house to supplement his meager income. Esther earned her bachelor’s in physical education from Brigham Young University in 1927 and a master’s from Columbia University Teachers College in New York City in 1930.

She chose to stay in New York and in 1932, Ester married Oliver Peterson, with whom she eventually had four children. Esther became a teacher at The Windsor school and volunteered at the YWCA, where she witnessed racial discrimination and organized her first strike. Some of her students had jobs sewing aprons and when they were forced to change the design of the pockets from squares to hearts—hearts were much more difficult to sew and therefore slowed them down—their wages were docked. Esther intervened and the women won their strike.

Around the same time, she became assistant director of education at the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry. During the summers from 1932-1939, she helped teach women who also worked as milliners, telephone operators and garment workers.

In 1938, Ester became a paid organizer for the American Federation of Teachers. For the next six years, she traveled around New England advocating for teachers’ rights. From 1939-1944 and again from 1945-1948, she served as a lobbyist for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

In 1944, she became the first lobbyist for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. The AFL-CIO recounts that “at her first union lobbyists’ meeting, all the men stood up when she walked in. Peterson didn’t want to be treated differently and announced, ‘Please don’t stand up for me. I don’t intend to stand up for you.’ Because she was new, they assigned her to a new representative from Boston, John F. Kennedy, who—everyone thought at the time—‘won’t amount to much’ anyway.”

When her husband was offered a diplomatic position in Sweden in 1948, their family relocated there and they lived abroad until 1957. Back in Washington D.C., Esther joined the Industrial Union Department of the AFL–CIO, as its first female lobbyist.

In 1961 when President Kennedy took office, he appointed his former colleague Esther as Director of the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor and later as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor Standards, roles she held from 1961-1969. These roles made her the highest ranking woman in the Kennedy administration.

At Esther’s urging, President Kennedy created the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, whose first leader was Eleanor Roosevelt. Esther served as Executive Vice Chair. One of the outcomes of this group was the Equal Pay Act, passed on June 10, 1963. According to the AFL-CIO, “the commission also laid the groundwork for the National Women’s Committee on Civil Rights to ensure African American women, in particular, were heard in the struggle for civil rights.”

While those things received more media attention, also in 1963, the Commission issued a groundbreaking report called American Women, which included topics such as job discrimination and daycare. In 1968, Ester succeeded in establishing a day care at the Labor Department, the first on-site day care center at a federal government agency; today it is named after her.

Ester also served on presidential commissions on consumer interests and fought for truth in advertising, uniform packaging, “sell buy” dates, unit pricing and nutritional labeling. After President Kennedy was assassinated, Ester went on to serve under Presidents Johnson and Carter as Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs.

After leaving government work in 1971, Ester was 65 and could have easily retired, but she continued her fight for consumer protection as vice president and consumer adviser to the Giant Food Corporation, president of the National Consumers League and chairman of the Consumer Affairs Council. At the age of 75, she was hired by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents as a consumer adviser, particularly focusing on the problems faced by seniors. She also served on the board of the United Seniors Health Cooperative.

In 1981, Estelle received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian in the United States. The following year, she was elected to the Common Cause National Governing Board.

In 1990, the American Council on Consumer Interests created the Esther Peterson Consumer Policy Forum lectureship, which is presented each year at their annual conference. In 1993, Ester was named a delegate of the United Nations as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) representative and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Working nearly until the end, Esther died on December 20, 1997, in Washington D.C., at the age of 91.

Fearless Females in History: The Night of Terror

Earlier this month millions of American women went to the polls to cast their ballots in the mid-term elections. Most of us know that women fought for 70 years for our right to vote, but how many of us really realize just what they had to endure? Nov. 15 marked the 105th anniversary of the Night of Terror, in which 33 suffragists were imprisoned and tortured for peacefully demonstrating in front of the White House.

In January 1917, groups of suffragists, all members of the National Women’s Party, began silently protesting in front of the White House, holding signs bearing slogans like “Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?” In all, these “Silent Sentinels,” as they were known, numbered more than 2,000.

For the most part, these protesters were quietly ignored by both conservative suffragists who disagreed with their tactics and the White House. That is until the U.S. entered WWI and the public began seeing their protests as unpatriotic. On Nov. 10, 1917, when 30 suffragists including Alice Paul, Dorothy Day (yes, the same woman who founded the Catholic Worker’s Union), and Lucy Burns were arrested for obstructing traffic in front of the White House. Or at least that was the official charge. Everyone knew they were really being arrested for protesting.

They were taken to District of Columbia Jail and then remanded to Virginia’s Occoquan Workhouse. There, the women who ranged in age from X to 73, demanded to be treated as political prisoners, which the prison guards laughed at. Who were these women to demand such things? They were denied legal counsel, so Dudley Field Malone, a lawyer for the Wilson administration, resigned his position and agreed to represent their legal rights.

On Nov. 14, 1917, the superintendent of the workhouse ordered the guards to beat the suffragists into submission. They were tortured and left for dead. Dora Lewis was knocked unconscious; Alice Cosu suffered a heart attack and was denied medical care until the next morning; and Lucy Burns was awkwardly handcuffed with her hands above her head, forcing her to stand overnight. Many were thrown against an iron bench or their iron bedframes, one violently hitting her head to the point the others thought she was dead.

In response to this mistreatment and horrible living conditions—rats roamed the halls, there were maggots in the food, the water was filthy, and the restrooms were very public—the women staged hunger strikes. The government wasn’t about to have them die in jail, so they were force-fed through tubes. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Library of Congress records that they suffered “unprecedented psychological intimidation.”

This event, dubbed the “Night of Terror” caught media attention, turning public sympathy toward the suffragists. They were released on Nov. 28. About a month and a half later, President Wilson finally announced his support of women’s suffrage. In March of the following year, a D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the arrests were unconstitutional. Silent Sentinels continued to protest until Congress passed the 19th amendment on Aug. 18, 1920. Then the women went back to their home states to campaign for state ratification.

To learn more about the Night of Terror, read Jailed for Freedom, a first-person account of the events by Doris Stevens, or watch the movie Iron Jawed Angels.

It’s “Sex & The City” Publication Day!

Break out your Manolos and pour yourself a cosmo – it’s publication day for Sex & the City: A Cultural History!

This book is both nostalgia and critical commentary. The nostalgia comes from me as a 20-something watching the show for the first time, thinking it represented real life. The critical commentary comes from my 40-something self who can look back on it and see what an impact it had on society and where it clearly missed the mark. I tried to be as honest as possible in my criticism because I feel that that is the point of a book like this.

Library Journal LOVED it, calling the book “Insightful… interesting, well-researched.”

If you are or ever were a Sex and the City fan, PLEASE check out this book. I’m really interested to hear what you think!



TikTok Live
Tuesday, November 15 (tonight!)
7 p.m.
Look for me in your live section or search  @nicolevelinaauthor

Book Launch Party
Saturday, November 19 (this weekend)

The Novel Neighbor
Downstairs Event Space (Enter through side of building)
7905 Big Bend Blvd
St. Louis MO, 63119
Noon- 2 p.m.

Event is FREE
Come and go as you please

Dessert bar
Alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks
Nicole will read & speak
Books for sale & autographing