BookMates

*taps mic* Is this thing on?

Hi everybody,

It’s been a long minute, huh?

Well, I’m excited to say I’m back and I did not return empty-handed. For MONTHS I’d been working on a web series that took many twists and turns and has finally evolved into what I’m so thrilled to share with you all.

BOOKMATES is a series following two book-loving friends and the situations bibliophiles find themselves in.

They’re short and sweet skits that I hope you enjoy as much as I enjoyed making them.

The teaser is below…catch all the fire names we dropped in just 26 seconds!

Comment below, I wanna know what you guys think!

‘The Healer’ in RookieMag

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I’m very excited to share that my short story, ‘The Healer’ has been featured in RookieMag’s Infinity issue! Storytelling is my passion and to have that validation of connection with readers is an amazing feeling. I am so appreciative of all of the support sent my way. Click HERE to read the story!

Women Who Write: Raven Starr

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’tve left you without a dope beat to step to, step to…

I’ve been gone for a minute, but I’m back with another profile on yet another brilliant writer. Raven Starr is a poet whose vulnerability is so authentic it will inspire you to be just as open. She’s raw, she’s honest, and she’s talented. Check out the amazing piece she shared with me, “It was 12 a.m. and I Thought I was a Rapper”

 

“The Healer Woman” a short story

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“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.” – Luke 7:47

I recently wrote a short story about 3 generations of women, sins, and atonement. It’s up on Catapult, check out an except below. As always, I love to hear your feedback:

* * *

There was banging at the door. It rattled the hinges and shook the frame. It scared the birds nestled in the oaks, and for one imperceptible moment it made the cicadas pause their screeching. The banging persisted for a while before rousing Mama Harris, but Jayda jolted up on the couch immediately. It had been two months since Jayda’s mother sent her to spend the summer with her great-grandmother and she still wasn’t accustomed to the sound of Mama Harris’ door rattling all hours of the night. Jayda heard the floorboards creak and saw the shadow of Mama Harris holding her lantern as she waded through the darkness. She could see the tall broad woman in her night gown and head rag. She looked tired, worn, like old age was a ten ton burden weighing on her shoulders. Her eyes were rheumy and sagged in the wrinkled pouches of her skin. But no matter how old or how tired, she always answered her door.

Mama Harris could see the silhouette of a woman from the sheer curtain over the door’s window. She knew it was a woman because they were the only ones to knock on her door. She pulled back the curtain, and held up her lantern. The woman’s head was shielded in a floral veil, but Mama Harris could see the left eye that was swollen shut and the reddening bruise across her cheek. Those scars were no stranger to her, neither was the face behind them. The sight of the woman made Mama Harris’ spine stiffen. She hadn’t seen her since she’d run off with the man Mama Harris warned would only bring her trouble. And while she had grieved heavily for the girl, she extracted some peace in her absence. With her gone Mama Harris could forget her previous sins and bring an end to her private penance. But now the woman was back banging at Mama Harris’ door. Surely this was God calling for her atonement, but God had come at an inopportune time. She resolved that if she couldn’t bargain for an extension she’d use everything in her natural power to snatch it.

“Boil some water and fill the basin,” Mama said over her shoulder to Jayda. The woman starred into the eyes of Mama and halted her banging.

“Mama,” the woman whispered in a choked voice.

Mama Harris opened the door and the woman stumbled in.

Finish reading on Catapult.

#WomanWriterWednesday: Lady Silk

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#WomenWritersWednesday is a docu-series that explores the inner lives of women writers. Writers discuss everything from inspiration to writing processes to inherited gifts.

Lady Silk is a writer deeply influenced by Hip-Hop. I spoke with her about the importance of telling the truth, living in order to write, and how she likens her writing to an MC rapping.

 

#WomanWriterWednesday: Anisa Gandevivala

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#WomenWritersWednesday is a docu-series that explores the inner lives of women writers. Writers discuss everything from inspiration to writing processes to inherited gifts.

Anisa Gandevivala is a writer, poet, and artist. Her work focuses on intimacy, meditation practices, and nature. We sat down and discussed her definition of intuitive action, doing what she’s gotta do, and not having to be the good guy.

 

Flight

Keep24(Stephanie Fields, Flight)

“You want to fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down” – Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon) 

So it’s finally here! I started this project in September 2015; I had absolutely no idea where I was going with it and since its inception it has taken many twists and turns. Throughout it all–the crying, the hair pulling, the teeth decaying–I am proud to have finally completed my collection of short stories & present it to the world!

“Flight” is a multimedia collection of short stories that use photo, film, and written text to explore themes of escapism for black women. The collection features 4 short stories, films, and photosets.

I am very thankful to all of those who encouraged me through this process, it has truly been a transformative experience. I hope that you all enjoy and share; I would really like to know what you think.

Ok, enough sentiment, you can find–and follow–the collection by clicking this link HERE.

xoxo – Steph

P.S. there is MUCH more coming from me in the New Year!

Mahogany

So, as you may know I’ve been working on a collection of short-stories (you can read about my experience here). The process has been extremely transformative and is nearing completion. I am excited to be able to share one of the stories, which you can read by following clicking this link.

A small excerpt can also be found below:

It was in the dead of night when headlights flooded a pale blue shotgun house rooted on modest land. The car stopped in the middle of the make-shift driveway. Margaret had been up for two hours, stirring a now lukewarm pot of coffee. She wasn’t thirsty but she needed something to occupy her hands. The rumbling sound of the engine was cut and the lights faded into the night. From the open window, she could hear two doors slam. Her heart picked up a few paces. Since her phone had rung two hours ago, she was a ball of tension. There was a rapt at her door and she jumped at the sound. She set the mug on the counter and went to open the door. Even in the blackest of night, Anne’s skin still glowed pale like the moon. Margaret didn’t say a word, she just simply stepped aside as Anne walked in, followed by her husband who was carrying a bundle of swathed cloth in his arm. Margaret shut the door, her ears had become hot and she felt an off rhythm thud in her left temple. She was stressed. Stressed after working twelve hours at the mill, stressed after coming home to find her husband still hadn’t returned, and stressed that a woman she hadn’t seen for thirteen years was now in her too small kitchen. Margaret struck a match and set the lit lantern in the middle of the table. She gestured for the couple to have a seat, her eyes still on the bundle in the man’s arms.

“Can I get ya’ll something to drink?” She asked

“No, no, we’re fine, Margaret. Thank you,” Anne refused in her crisp, elegant, northern accent.

“Well, follow me,” Margaret picked up the lantern and lead them through three doors that shot straight to the back room where a bed laid and not much else besides a wooden chair, a tin bucket, and a nightstand. 

“This will do fine, Margaret. Thank you,” Anne said. 

Margaret set the lantern on the nightstand.

“I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me,” she walked out of the room.

Margaret began making a fresh batch of coffee. She didn’t have much to offer her guest, food-wise, and though they refused her offer of coffee, bustling around the kitchen kept her mind far away from the mysterious bundle in Anne’s husband’s arms. The light from the lantern partially illuminated the small room, throwing shadows against the lit wall. Margaret peaked over her shoulder at Anne. She got a good look at the woman: tall, slim, and dressed in an expensive black pants and shirt outfit. Her hair was pushed out of her face and her eyes were bright and demanding to be looked into. She was a far cry from the Anne that Margaret had known.

“It’s a fresh pot,” Margaret gestured toward the coffee.

“No, thank you,” Anne smiled, taking a seat at the table where she placed the lantern.

“Margaret, do you remember George Stowe?”

“Sho do, how could I forget?”

“Remember when he used to pick on me for being white?” Anne laughed. Margaret kept quiet.

“One day, you finally punched him in his mouth and said, ‘she as black as you and the rest of us,’ he never messed with me again.”

“What you getting at?” Margaret wasn’t one who enjoyed digging up the past.

“Margaret, have a seat. Please.”

Margaret’s heavy feet dragged a deep groan from the floor as she took the chair opposite from Anne.

“What I was trying to say is that I wish I was as strong as you.”

Margaret huffed.

“No, really, Margaret. You weren’t ashamed of anything. I wish I had been more like you.” Anne was staring hard into Margaret’s eyes.

“You protected me back then and I never thanked you,” Anne reached over and placed her delicate hands over Margaret’s calloused ones. Margaret looked down at those dainty pale fingers. Did she really drive all the way out here to thank her for something she did almost twenty years ago?

“I want to ask you something,” Anne said.

“Ok.”

“It’s a favor, a big favor. I know I’ll owe you forever.”

Margaret inched back into her seat. She didn’t like the sound of Anne’s voice or the pleading look in her eyes. 

“Will you do it?” Anne asked

“Do what?”

“Will you…I need you to keep my daughter.”

Margaret sighed, she had imagined having to do something far worse.

“Of course,” she smiled, “for how long?”

“Forever.”

Continue reading here

“Mother” is featured in Black Girls Talking “The Annex.”

 

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Black Girls Talking is a collective of four black women discussing and critiquing relevant topics from pop-culture to politics. Recently they created “The Annex,” described as a “home for cultural writing and criticism.” The Annex is seasonal and theme-based. For their premiere issue the theme is Resistance and I was humbled to have the opportunity to have a short story featured.

“Mother” is a short-story that looks at the intertwining lives of three women on an island during the eve of its revolution. The story has gone through extensive changes since being submitted to “The Annex,” but I am proud and thankful nonetheless.

You can read the full story by clicking the link.

Lucy: A Review

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According to the Greeks there are four types of love: Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape, but the Greeks forgot to mention one more type and that is the love between a mother and daughter. It is an enduring love that withstands the initial mutual adoration, the misguided criticisms and accusations until the final arrival at respect. This is the type of love explored in Jamaica Kincaid’s semi-autobiographical novella, Lucy.

Lucy is a girl who, at nineteen, has had enough of her family, community, and west indian island. So she packs her bags and leaves to work as an au pair for a couple in New York while she studies to become a nurse—at least that what she leaves her mother to believe. In the span of 365 days Lucy’s personality and life direction does a complete 360 as she abandons her past in hopes of defining her own future. We arrive at her life in the middle of her existential crisis/transformation and Kincaid leads us on an emotional journey to discover the root of Lucy’s discomfort and incessant refusal to communicate with her past.

Kincaid delivers a stellar novella whose character and language is so captivating it will not allow you to put it down—I finished it in one sitting. In 165 pages the Antiguan author offers us one of the most idiosyncratic, cleverly angsty, fiercely independent female characters in Literature history. Lucy is a woman for whom convention and tradition holds no place, at least that’s what she is fighting so hard to convince herself to believe. She is in a constant battle with authentic reality and illusion and it is through this conflict that Kincaid delves into the most complex relationship of all—a mother and daughter. Her emotionally intense illustration of this relationship is so nuanced yet relatable you will remember the very moment at which the illusion of who you thought your mother was and the reality of who she is clashes so fiercely that you begin to unravel your own identity. And it is through that painful and confusing process that Lucy sets out on leaving us to root for her, to cry with her, to side-eye her, but most of all, to relate to her. She is one of the most endearing characters I have ever come across.

This sort of personal (re)development set against the backdrop of a white upper class family allows room for Kincaid’s stunning critiques of classicism, colonialism, gender roles, and white feminism. Her language is blunt, but beautiful. She weaves the straight-forward with the figurative in a way that will force you to to re-read sections not for clarity, but for adoration.

We have all had that moment where we despise where we’re from; the people, ideas, and culture is so confining that we believe if we just escape its borders we will find happiness. But it isn’t until we cross into new territory that we learn:

Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

No piece of work captures that more brilliantly than Kincaid’s Lucy.