Long Pause   Leave a comment


WOW.

I haven’t posted anything in four years. So if my nine followers have any kind of alert for my blog, the first thing that will shock them is that I even remembered I had a blog. It might get a chuckle that I had to reset the password. And they might be able to sleep better tonight knowing that Davida is back on the case! (not)

So, why now? Because I am sick of publishing self-published books that don’t sell enough for appetizers at a Michelin star restaurant (will write more about the discussion of Michelin stars later) and I decided I needed to vent. So Davida’s blog 2.0 is going to be me coming out as how I describe myself as the poor black female version of Larry David.

And I shall start with the Post Office man and how he made me recognize that I had become a curmudgeon (though technically that definition often refers to a man).

Off and Running!

 

Posted November 20, 2019 by deejammin in Generally speaking

It’s Published. Now what?   Leave a comment


I have a new memoir titled “Imagined Lives” that I published last October. I was in such a frantic state to get it done in time for this major contest that I have spent zero energy on marketing. I am trying to remedy that now because if I don’t my sales will stay at a really dismal level.
So I’ve been working with my brilliant web designer, Sharon Mordecai, and she created a beautiful author website for me – http//www.davidasiwisajames.com. I updated my Amazon Author Page. I will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend (April 18-19, 2015) with my California Writers Club.  I revisited my dormant YouTube account and put my husband to work as my personal director, cinematographer and film editor. I now alternately call him “Spike” or “Steven” to acknowledge his creative contributions. We did some test runs and he added his own little flourishes. So I have my first dedicated YouTube videos up as a writer.
But the truth is that attempting to market a self-published book is like a full-time job. It requires time, energy and commitment. I love writing. I sometimes dream of things to write. And when I am writing and in the zone, I have been known to close my eyes and let my soul and fingers fly. And I consider myself a damned fine writer, as do others. Yet despite the fact that I have done professional arts marketing for years as a career, quite successfully, having to ‘sell’ my own novels is a challenge that stumps me. It’s not that I don’t know all the things I need to do. It’s that as I envisioned my writing career as a published author, I always assumed there would be a marketing team at some publishing house doing this part. But there is not. There is me and the few friends on Facebook that care to share my posts.
So…it’s time to “S..T or get off the pot,” to be crude about it (well almost crude). Like several things in my life as of late, I have to recalibrate my thinking and move into marketing mode. Please, someone, buy my book! Or buy ten and give them away as presents. Does this count as marketing? Get to work, girl.

Posted April 14, 2015 by deejammin in Generally speaking

The Number Nine   Leave a comment


      I turned 59 today. So this is an homage to the number nine.

      Some wise person realized the significance of the number nine when it came to sales. I imagine merchants in ancient Rome shouting, “bread sticks for sale – Six for 99cents.” Even then, there would have been significance in the fact that it wasn’t a dollar or a lire or whatever the hell was the equivalent of a dollar, slightly under and therefore a bargain. You get my point.

      All consumers know that getting something for $99.99 makes us feel good because we didn’t spend $100. $9.99, 6.99, 149.99…ad infinitum. Nine and 99 are powerful combinations.

      A nine-year old anticipates the last day of his ninth year because he is entering double digits. A 19-year old stands breathless on the brink of turning 20. Countless women have stayed 29 for many birthdays. And forget 39. There used to be something apocalyptic about 39 and the approaching 40.

            Weight? Yes, let’s go there. If you weigh 140, you know what it means to get to 139…you ache to lose that one pound, which tends to elude you. Again with the nines! And if you are 139, you know what it means to stay there and not get to 140. See…I picked some nice safe numbers. I remember those numbers!

      As for me? I truly can’t believe that, God spare life, that I will be 60 next year. See, today is my 59th birthday but I’m just going to jump straight ahead to turning 60. Physically, I feel all 59 of those years in not a good way. But mentally, emotionally, romantically…I still feel like a teenager at times. So it’s true. It’s just a number. I’d rather be young at heart. More than anything.

Posted December 18, 2012 by deejammin in Generally speaking

Where is home for you?   Leave a comment


Where is “Home” for you?                  by Davida Siwisa James

I recently returned to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to work for a few months at this beautiful amphitheater called “The Reichhold Center for the Arts.” It is part of the University of the Virgin Islands. I worked here when the theater opened in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. So I have a long history with the island, its people and the university. Between those decades, I lived here a total of ten years. I met some of my dearest friends here. I met my husband here.

Coming back evoked a lot of memories – both good and not so good. “Hurricane Marilyn” was definitely one of the less pleasant memories. But the thing that struck me the most with all the warmth of the greetings welcoming me back were the people who said, “You came home.” And then the others who said, “You belong here.”

So here is my question and my ponderings on this “Bull and Bread” holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands when I have a much needed day off to celebrate the D. Hamilton Jackson Holiday: Where is home for you? How do we decide where we are “from” on this planet? And how do we define just one place we choose to identify as being our home?

I wrote a paper once many years ago for a UCLA class, before personal computers when I was still trying to master how to save documents on a word processor. It is lost to me now but it pondered these same issues of home. And it was spawned by some article about homeless people and that ‘home’ for them is too often a cardboard box or their cars or inside an abandoned subway station underground.

I know one thing with great certainty: people do not necessarily identify the place of their birth as where they are from. We just don’t. I am one of those people who will say “I’m fromL.A., but I was born in Philly.” Or I leave out the Philly part altogether. But I’ve heard countless other people say the same thing. They name the place they live, the place they most identify with or the place they love and have roots as where they are from.

When I first moved to the Virgin Island in 1976, it was directly from Harlem. So I told people here I was from New York. After those first couple of years here, when I moved to Los Angeles I said, “I’m from St. Thomas.” And then, after 13 years in L.A., when I returned to St. Thomas, I said “I’m fromL.A.” At this point, I am clearly a citizen of the world. Yet after 23 plus years in L.A. now, I clearly identify most with being from Los Angeles.

But that still brings me back to the tug of war in my heart over the Caribbean, the deep love I feel for these islands and the fact that somewhere in my DNA I do feel an affinity for here that I feel for no other place. I guess in all its finality, since this is where I have asked for my ashes to be sprinkled, that this is where I consider my most enduring home in my heart.

Notice in all that recitation of where I identified with, I never mentioned Philly.

So I guess that says it all: home is where your heart is. Home is the place you feel most comfortable, most a part of, or the most grounded. Perhaps it is the place where you feel the most magic has happened and where, as you reflect on the memories of your life (good and bad) you still feel it is where you belong. And for just as many who agree with that sentiment, home really is where they were born, have roots, history and family or where they want to be their last resting place.

Caribbean people call those of us who move here from the states “Yankees.” I know Yankees who have come and gone as many times as I have or more. They have that same tug of war, trying to decide if they can handle life in the Caribbean– because it’s not all about white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and majestic take-your-breath-away views. It can be hard, trying, frustrating, aggravating and just plain tough. But it’s like Al Pacino said more or less in “Godfather III” – “Every time I try to leave, they pull me back in.” That’s what the Caribbean does – it just keeps pulling you back, emotionally and physically.

Yet there are also Yankees who have stayed – for 30, 40 years they stayed. They dealt with the good and bad and decided “this is my place on earth.” And just as importantly, there are the people of Caribbean birth who moved to the U.S. or Canada or London and never moved back home. They visit but they prefer to live elsewhere to enjoy the comforts and modernization of city life and the good and bad that comes with that.

I have been deeply touched by the people who said, “You came back home.” Some part of me knew that deep inside this was home for me. But though I know it is the home of my heart, when someone asks now – I say quite comfortably, “I am from L.A.” It is too much to try to describe the magic that has happened here in these islands and that I left my heart here and that the last of me will be sprinkled here. But I know.