Spotlight on Roman and Jewel (Dana L. Davis), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to spotlight Roman and Jewel (Dana L. Davis).
Read on for more about Dana, plus a excerpt & a giveaway!
Meet Dana L. Davis!
Dana L. Davis is an actress who lives and works in LA. She has starred in Heroes, Prom Night, Franklin & Bash, Veronica Mars and 10 Things I Hate About You. Dana is a classically trained violist and the founder of the Los Angeles–based nonprofit Culture for Kids LA, which provides inner-city children with free tickets and transportation to attend performing-arts shows around LA County. She currently stars in the following animated series: Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Craig of the Creek and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Meet Roman and Jewel!
If Romeo and Juliet got the Hamilton treatment…who would play the leads? This vividly funny, honest, and charming romantic novel by Dana L. Davis is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes…and the world thinks so, too.
Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.
Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea—especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.
~ Excerpt ~
“‘Tis But Thy Name That Is My Enemy”
“What’s in a name? Is something profound and meaningful supposed to live deep within the string of letters? Is a name supposed to say something?”
I stare into the camera of my phone and take a dramatic pause.
“Take my mom for example,” I continue. “Her name is Monday. You know, the saddest day of the week? And have you ever met a black man named Dusty? No? Well then, you haven’t met my dad. I mean, what if my dad was a surgeon? He’s not. He teaches fourth grade. But can you imagine? You meet your brain surgeon and his name is Dr. Dusty?” I shift in my seat. “Dust aside, my older brother’s name might take the cake. It’s Judas. Like the stupid snitch who ratted Jesus out? For thirty silver shekels or schillings or whatever money was called back in the days of yore when people were actually named Judas.
“They saved the best for last. Monday. Dust. Jesus killer meet Jerzie Jhames. Born where? New freakin’ Jersey, y’all. I’m not kidding, that’s my real name. And I’m not kidding, we live in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I swear I’m like the defunct superhero Stan Lee contemplated before deciding it was a really bad idea. Is it a bird? Is it a 747 jumbo jetliner? Nope. It’s Jerzie Jhames in her silk cape and go-go boots. Watch her werk.”
I lean forward to read a comment from one of my most loyal followers.
Eye_Eat_MonkeyBrainz: What about Cinny? That’s a name that makes a really bold statement. That’s the best name ever.
“Cinny?” The mention of the superstar makes my stomach churn like I just ate something super spoiled. “That name’s okay. I guess. Not sure if she lives among the other one-name greats like Cher. Rihanna. Beyoncé. Ciara. Drake. The name Cinny is unique, but I’m not sure it’s simple enough to relate to.”
“Oh, it’s simple all right.”
I turn to face my aunt, who is twisting her braids into a bun on top of her head as the subway rattles across the tracks.
“Simple. Trite. Silly. Dumb.”
I turn back to my phone. “That’s my aunt, y’all. She lucked out in the name department. Karla. A sensible name. Karla’s reliable. Upright. Stable. Lovely. My aunt is such a Karla.”
I lean forward, reading another comment from one of the eight people watching this live stream.
Ram_Butt_Booty16: Why’d yer Mom and Dad name you Jerzie Jhames? You sound like a porn star.
I nod. “Good point. It could easily be a porn star’s name. But then again so could Ram Butt Booty.”
Aunt Karla snatches the phone out of my hand.
“Hey! I’m live streaming!”
She fiddles with the phone. “Not anymore.” And hands it back to me.
“Aunt Karla!” I whine.
“Jerzie, you had eight people watching that. It’s not a big loss. And why are you doing a live stream on a public train?”
I glance down the aisle. There’s only six other people riding in this car, and five of them are on the opposite end, not even in hearing range, engrossed in phones or books, minding their own business in typical New York fashion. The sixth person, a lady near the closest set of doors, is in deep, whispered conversation with herself; I’m pretty sure she’s not paying any attention to us either.
“Aunt Karla. Most Instagram accounts are so fake. I want my account to be genuine, so I speak truth and talk about real issues.”
“Complaining about your name? That’s a real issue?” She frowns. “Why not show them your life—what’s more real than that? You’re a busy kiddo. Voice lessons, dance lessons, piano lessons, too. I follow you on Instagram. You haven’t even mentioned you’re gonna be on Broadway. Talk about that. Show them what it takes to make it to Broadway. Show ’em you can sing.”
“So you want me to be like those Instagram accounts with narcissists singing into the camera? Desperate for followers? Bragging about all their accomplishments?” I shake my head. “There’s a million accounts like that. I may only have 114 followers, but they’re loyal. And they appreciate my unique style.” I log back on and scroll through the comments that were left before Aunt Karla canceled the stream. Perhaps scroll is an exaggeration. There is only one additional comment, after all…
GiggleMeister727: Take off your shirt!!
Uggh. These boys are so annoying!
The subway screeches to a slow stop. I hear a muffled station announcement through the speakers. Can’t make out what’s being said, but I’m pretty sure Forty-Second Street is next. That’s where we get off. Then it’s only a short walk to the rehearsal space, where we’ll be almost every day for the next few weeks.
“So, you excited to meet Cinny?” Aunt Karla asks as quite a few people file into the subway car and plop down onto empty seats.
“Aww, Jerzie. Don’t be like that. She’s your idol.”
“Was.” I stuff my cell into the side pouch of my backpack.
“Stop it. You got all her posters in your room. Downloaded all the girl’s music. You’re a super fan.”
“My musical tastes have evolved. R&B pop fusion, or whatever it is Cinny sings—it’s not really my style anymore.” The train jerks into motion again. “By the way, you think Mom and Dad will get mad at me if I change my name when I turn eighteen?”
“Why you wanna do that?”
“Actors do it all the time. Did you know Olivia Wilde’s real name is Olivia Cockburn?”
“Cockburn? That’s tragic.” Aunt Karla grimaces. “So whatcha gonna change yours to?”
“I dunno. Like a one-name name. Like Saran. That’s pretty, huh?”
“Honey…” Aunt Karla’s big brown eyes stretch wide. “That’s plastic wrap.”
“Okay, fine. Not Saran. But you get my point.”
“I get it. You want a name weirder than the one you already got.”
“Not weirder. More amazing than ever.”
“Jerzie, please. Beyoncé at four years old? During preschool roll call? Trust me, she was cursing her parents, too. These wacky names like Cinny. What is that? Short for Cinnamon?” Aunt Karla pauses to roll her eyes. “These names become amazing because they’re attached to amazing people.”
I accidentally make eye contact with the lady near the door talking to herself.
“Is that girl lookin’ at me?” she whispers to empty space. “Why she lookin’ at me?”
Damn. I quickly avert my eyes.
“So don’t change your name,” Aunt Karla goes on. “Change your trajectory. Make Jerzie Jhames the next dumb name attached to greatness.”
“So you admit my name is dumb!”
She tugs on my mop of curls. “Do all teenagers have selective hearing, or just you?”
“Doesn’t matter anyway.” I press the side button to lock the screen on my phone as the train starts to slow again. “Because under the current circumstances, I can’t change my trajectory.”
“Why you think that? You’re about to be on Broadway.”
I give Aunt Karla a look that I hope says, You know exactly why I think that.
She tosses back a look of her own. I’d guess she’s saying, Jerzie? Stop acting like a sixteen year old. I’d toss back yet another look, but Aunt Karla’s now gathering her purse and tote bag.
“We get off here.” She stands.
I grab my backpack and sling it over my shoulder as the train screeches to a stop. Once the double doors slide open, we both hurry and step onto the platform. The terminal has an interesting odor, a mixture of sweat, must, dust—not my dad—and excitement. An energy you can literally inhale. It’s electric.
The platform is crowded, but I’m always amazed at how expertly Aunt Karla weaves through rush-hour crowds. She’s barely over five feet—I’m a good five inches taller than her—but she’s lived in New York since she was eighteen and is not the one to try. She sort of exudes that New Yorker don’t-even-think-about-effing-with-me vibe, and I swear swarms of people disperse when she approaches. Like the way the Munchkins scattered when Evilene walked through the sweat shop on The Wiz. She’s basically got it like that. But as my gaze drifts away from Aunt Karla’s Wicked Witch of the West march down the platform, I screech to a halt like somebody pulled the emergency brake on me.
It’s one of those digital posters. For Roman and Jewel. I place a hand over my chest in hopes it’ll dull the ache. It’s like my heart is in a free fall after being hurled off the roof of a building. I’ve lost track of where my aunt is, but I can’t worry much about that, because I’m not sure I can move anyway. I’m glued to the platform.
It’s real. Suddenly so real. And even though the poster isn’t much to look at—two shadowy figures and the words Roman and Jewel: A Hip-Hopera Starring CINNY. Previews begin August 18th!—it still hits me like a sucker punch from an MMA fighter.
I feel a hand rest gently on my shoulder and look over to see Aunt Karla standing beside me.
“See?” I point to the poster. “It is all in a name.”
She squeezes my shoulder. “On the hero’s journey, you’re obviously gonna run into other heroes along the way. All at different stages of a marathon. So this is the first mile of yours. Twenty-five more to go. You’re gonna get your time to shine.”
“I wanted it to be now,” I admit softly.
Aunt Karla wraps an arm around my waist, and I lean my head on her shoulder. I’m glad she’s here, because my knees feel weak and the weight of my heart is working hard to drag me down. “Now is here. You’re on Broadway, baby. 1681 Broadway, to be specific.”
- The address to Broadway Theatre. Where Roman and Jewel will be performed live onstage. Hopefully for years to come. I force a smile. “I’m on Broadway?”
“Girl. You really are.”
I’m finally able to will my legs back into motion. Aunt Karla guides me up the stairs and away from the underbelly of Times Square. The city seems to magically swell, welcoming us as we slowly ascend.
Excerpted from Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis, Copyright © 2021 by Dana L. Davis. Published by Inkyard Press.
Roman and Jewel
By: Dana L. Davis
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: January 5th, 2021
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Like almost everyone, I had a Hamilton phase in 2016, but I don't think I've ever really gotten out of it. Theater books are always the best and this book looks really fun!
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