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FOR MOST OF HISTORY, ANONYMOUS WAS A WOMAN

Virginia Woolf

Tipping the Scales LITERARY & ARTS JOURNAL


Letter from the Editors Welcome to our debut issue of Tipping the Scales Literary Journal. Tipping the Scales (TTS) is a literary journal for lesbians, by lesbians. We have such an amazing selection of lesbian writers and are so honoured to share their work with you. Natascha and Lori came up with the idea to start this journal one day while they were sipping tea (Natascha) and coffee (Lori) at their outside table that is situated next to their cute little chickens. On that same day, they immediately started putting the website together, setting up Twitter and Instagram and making a logo. They have had so much lovely support on social media! TTS quickly grew and immediately began receiving submissions from women all over the world! Each time they received a submission they both sat down to carefully consider the work and read it over many times, together. We hope you enjoy the works that we have chosen. Our writers and artists range in ages from fifteen to sixty-six! Most have included their social media, so please give them some support and follow them!

Front Cover: Art by Liv Robinson. Please see more of her work inside this issue.


Elizabeth Pywell Dean March Rachel Gay Abigail and Audrey Edith Pretty Serena Piccoli Lucy Pettigrew Elizabeth Last Nadia De Castro Elsa Girado Lucia Larson Christina Munoz Liv Robinson S D Simper Charlotte Bunney Liv Banecker Coco LaGuin Rae Rozman Marta Spoljar Vanessa Venditti Hannah Jones Susan Wardlaw Hannah Petch Clare Lydon


There were witches lining the bar, draining pond water from pint glasses, staring at security in the bottle lit mirror. You, dark curls sticking to your forehead, patted the stool to your right, said Here, sit,

drink, breathe, but it took me an hour to open my mouth for fear of drowning. I blinked and you disappeared. The bottom of my glass revealed a makeshift coaster with a title embossed in gold: The Works Of‌ I drank it in. Spent dark years then, looking for you in library stacks, behind cracked leather stools, underneath every matte, white goddess statue carved by a man. Moons have passed. I still sit at the bar nightly and watch the door, your scarlet book forever in my chest pocket, a spell against bullets and shame.


you need to tidy your room clean it no, properly clean it that rubbish needs to go out if you kept it neat you wouldn’t lose your homework just get in there and have a good root through let’s have a bag for Oxfam on the bed anything you’re not going to wear again yes anything just get rid if it doesn’t fit anymore that’s a good pile don’t let it fall don’t forget the stuff at the back right at the back go on, look properly

are you done? I’ll start folding over here come out and help me come on I said you can come out now


The slices through pale flesh are buttery, easily knifing apples that flick backwards to keen and keel over like dissolving pulp, melting muscle on the stove. Our necks have blood stubble now, points of boiling crimson, frothing through follicles and pores. My fingers cannot stem this geyser on my throat or yours. Eyes meet over the steel. We fall forwards into peaches and plums, bruising and staining every moment that used to be real, the knife blade up in the bowl.

Bio: Liz Chadwick Pywell is a lesbian poet from York, North Yorkshire. She is particularly interested in listening to and representing the voices of women who have been ignored or drowned out in history, literature and mythology. She has recently been or is shortly to be published in The Selkie, Forever Endeavour, Dare to Create’s Lockdown Rhythm competition e-book, Outta Time Magazine, Kalopsia, Visual Verse, Nightingale & Sparrow, Mooky Chick, Ang(st) and Dreich. (Instagram and Twitter) @chadpie


Dean March is known for their digital work that they post on instagram and tumblr. Exploring everything that comes to mind, Dean loves including characters that make other people feel seen and appreciated and hopes to leave a positive impact with their work, which is why they donate 15% of all profits to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. While Dean is still in high school, they hope to one day be able to work as a full time freelance artist because they really do love (almost) all aspects of it. If you want to chat, say hi to Dean so me on their socials! Instagram: @deansarts tumblr: @deanmarch


this is her bitterest of revenge/ forcing me to swallow mouthfuls of liquefied hypocrisy/ from hundreds of miles away/ her hand is that of a ghost/ firm yet unyielding as she tips the goblet/ up up up/ i cannot keep my throat open/ cannot match the pace of this breaking levee/ the liquid overflows my mouth/ a spurting fountain unmaintained/ pastes my swinging black locks over my nostrils/ a water boarding that seems never ending/ this is the void i thrust her into/ unintentionally i tell myself/ over dramatic i label her/ but here i am drowning in the bottom of an empty cement pool/ suffocating on the absence instead of excess/ i have reached a graceless fall/ i sit on my hands/ try to silence the twitching as the blood drains into my wrists/ and leaves my fingers as thrashing larva/ i kick my phone away/ shatter the screen/ i will not/ i will not/ this quiet desperation is best/ when left to simmer inside my gut/ stomach lining heated/ screaming refuses to release/ to untie these bonds i put on for my own safety/ god i am sorry/ apologies are meaningless at this point/ we are so far past this/ they echo off the empty corridors of the garage/ hit the flaking graffiti/ and bounce back/ knocking me off balance/ i deserve this/ i have perched high above on the tightrope for far too long/ looking down at the ant sized bobbing heads/ rising rising rising/ i shed my clothes/ watch them fall to the earth like confetti/ the only remaining pressure on my skin is the swirling air/ and even that feels like abandonment/ this is but temporary loneliness but that does not lessen the sting/ of polished stainless steel meeting skin/ everything will pass overhead soon/ like the gray clouds that form an ocean/ that carry the moon along


Alarms replace church bells and maybe in the midst of this overgrown thicket it screams insignificance and instead of running we stand still. Moss grows on all sides of the rocks making it impossible to know the direction I am facing. I wander in the woods; a hermit with the glass of my lantern knocked out leaving glittering trails behind me that catch sunlight and blind at the worst times. We said we would be back once the water dropped, when the winding path wasn’t at the bottom of this temporary lake. And now it has receded, left cracking mud behind in which sprouts pop up within the grooves to ache towards a light that isn’t there. I walk along the path my boots growing heavier and heavier as the swamp sticks to the rubber bottoms, eating handfuls of blackberries I pulled from the stalks before the first bud even opened. I wish I was better at endings, or at least as excitable as you, that my plodding footsteps did not cause the nearby frogs to silence themselves. Morning dew collects on my glasses, blinding me, and yet I do not wipe the droplets off. I trace the lines in between the rain and mirror them on the inside. Arc my lantern into the wet and hope it catches the damp on fire anyways. Against the gray sky it feels like nothing is possible; the limit has been reached. I am unholy. The tarot cards spill from my bag and every card, no matter how I overturn them, comes up reversed.


Tired of the fragility of lace I replace myself as lichen on the side of the dam, the inescapable sun dries me skeletal as I pray the cracks above me will spider web down, drown everything out below but that is the cost of feeling something. This is not a counting of the way that things are or are not This is the way things are supposed to be. In this rainstorm everything is bone chilled, and again my arrhythmic heart catches in the throat.

Rachael Gay is a poet and artist from Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in journals such as Anti-Heroin Chic, The Laurel Review, Rogue Agent, Ghost City Review, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review and others as well as the anthology What Keeps Us Here.


Here is the story of Abigail Denniston & Audrey Gleeson’s reignited love and making a little covid design company baby during lockdown! In March I (Abi) had come home from the States for a visit. I had been a photography consultant for Glass Eye Studios in Seattle, Washington. I ended up stuck in Dublin and not being able to return or travel home to Waterford. Audrey and I knew each other from 6 years ago and lost touch completely until one evening I downloaded tinder and within ten minutes of having the app her face popped up! The morning after the night before our first date we were in lockdown together in an apartment in Dun Laoghaire. Unable to go anywhere and both of us starting to show symptoms of the virus. Audrey was trying to get her assignments in for a design degree and had brought some art supplies. We started thinking of ways to engage with friends and family through art and try something that we could all have fun with. We started hash tagging drunk-drawing and doing live videos where we would take viewers requests and invite people to crack open a bottle and draw with us and share their art work. At the end of each session we would take photos of each piece we had drawn and I’d put them up for grabs on my insta page and then we’d post them out for free to the people who wanted to hang them on their walls. We both started to practice drawing and painting every day from then on. In April we started receiving paid requests and we both decided that we wanted to make something really unique happen out of this success. We spent so many mornings laughing our heads off trying to make puns out of anything we saw in the apartment. We now have over 70 puntastic card designs that are selling extremely well. Our cards can soon be purchased at The Gallery Cafe in Gort, MishMash Cafe in Dublin and The Gallery Cafe in Longford and at Cronin’s in Crosshaven, Cork. We also take weird and wonderful custom orders of which pet portraits seem to be the most popular. WeirdWatercolours is a concept that is driven by Irish humour and meme culture that playfully reinvents the medium of watercolour. The feedback we have received has been amazing. It truly goes to show that if you work hard enough at something you can make incredible things happen. We believe that laughter is something to be shared and art can really be anyone’s therapy. www.weirdwatercolours.com


Where I grew up the catholic kids hid guns in the scrapyard beneath the bits of old German bombers and the iron that was melted down for bullets from the old church on the hill the guns came from their dads those, who can't rub two shillings together can't feed the mouths of their children gaping hungry in church but the priest thinks they're singing praise. Monday morning Kenny puts one of those guns to my head pretends to pull the trigger says being a dykes worse than being an atheist, though he's not sure then he shouts to his friends and tells them an' me I'm better off dead

Edith Pretty is a 66-year-old lesbian woman from Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland where she was born and raised as an out and proud lesbian, and atheist (from around the age of 14) in a heavily protestant, homophobic area.


to Alexandra

Once my arms were buried in red sand One leg was hung on an elder, one on an alder Then you appeared in the distance Walking with placid sheep Silently sat and span Sewed my pieces in the heath And wove you into me


in the badly fired ceramic pot I fell asleep

to Alexandra

the only luck is my beloved fiancée that explodes my muscles and colours of sex like the brown apricot that I’ll see glowing pink they knock on the pot it’s a roe deer I let it sit down We’re starting the peer conversation but outside the procession on rubber creaks I run to the window Just check if I'm not in the coffins on the trucks but immediately behind me a vitrified suck hisses and neither my beloved nor the roe deer are there anymore


(*field in Swahili)

to Giorgia and Donatella In the forest of white trunks we pass thru sweats of dust and violet banana trees they’re waiting for us at the wedding to have lunch on the ground among skinny hens and have rice with our hands the muezzin squeaks in stereophony and whining singsongs make women dance in circle as men - ferocious and bored on the edge of the wall are looking at them we get in the mother’s shanty we’re Wazungu, white women guests of the village of colorful veils the only small floor overflows with girls gracious – they open the door fat – sleep on the ground


sweaty – their boobs hit me shy – think I’m a boy you choke, right before seeing the bride and thoughts of dust sweat even more in a small room falling in crammed with mosquito nets\breaths\dampness\ a mannequin of a doll been sitting for hours tied with rented heavy golden chains the bride is a mental catafalque eyes wide open under a closed veil in thick black make up swollen feet in heavy heels as you faint thinking that you might have been tied to that fate the husband stiff and solemn in his white costume and the scimitar makes his way thru the crowd with a fake body guard. And I who’d wish to lie under the banana flowers I can hear in the wind gay Monkeys gargling.


....


Serena Piccoli (she\her) is an Italian poet, playwright, performer, translator, artistic director. Her political chapbook "silviotrump" was published in 2017 by Moria Poetry, Chicago, USA. Her poems have been published in anthologies in UK (The quality of Mersey,

Liverpool 2018; Hidden Voice Anthology 1, Manchester 2019), in USA (Extreme, a social environmental anthology, Vagabond, Los

Angeles 2018), in Canada (June 2020, 845 Press, London, Ontario), in magazines in USA (Giallo, Clay Literary, Wine Cellar Press, Prismatica, The Confessionalist), in UK (Abridged, Forever Endeavour, In the red 18), in Nigeria (The Sub-Saharan Magazine), in Ireland (Sonder), in Canada (Lit Quarterly), in Australia (The Otholith), in Italy and Romania. She mainly writes about political, environmental, social contemporary issues with a touch of irony. She writes both in English and in Italian (her mother tongue). She is a lesbian inter-sectional feminist human rights advocate in love with her fiancĂŠe Alexandra, the two are trying to get married during the Pandemic. Twitter: @piccoli_serena https://serenapiccoli.wixsite.com/serenapiccoli


For the girls who have never felt the touch of another woman on their skin, for the girls who kissed a guy in a nightclub to feel something and realised only she makes you feel something, for the girls who fall asleep every night thinking about their best friend’s smile and how she could light up a thousand cities, for the girls who see other girls holding hands in public places and have longed for the same, for the girls who watch sapphic films to try and understand what it’s like to be loved by another girl, for the girls who almost let the words “I’m gay” leave their lips before pushing the syllables down into their stomachs, encasing their honesty in Zip-lock bags, for the girls who are so afraid of their own truth, this is for you.


Shrugging off the word lesbian became second nature, though when I found myself sitting next to a pretty girl at age fifteen my attraction to girls shuffled into the spotlight, clunky and nervous. Cut to age sixteen, legs parted, a girl with bright blonde hair between them, alive and free and unashamed but also shamed. Uncomfortable in my own skin but also the most comfortable I’d ever been. Seventeen brought the first girl I called my own, the word lesbian crossing my mind and breathed into bisexual, relaxed into a label that sat in my stomach without nausea, unknown truth taunting me as I grasped the bed sheets, in love. It took me so long to admit it; ignoring the warnings looked prettier than admittance but I always knew I never wanted boys to know me as girls did. Never lusted after male celebrities my friends were obsessed with (my first crush was Nicola from Girls Aloud), never wanted boys to touch the intimate parts of me like I wanted girls to. Never craved what they had to offer like I did with girls, I craved fingernails and femininity, nothing ever felt as good as my girlfriend’s hands on me, pinned down, feeling everything all at once.


It’s lonely in the middle of this lit up bar, blue drinks spilt onto the floor and love is kissing in front of me, girls latched onto lips like a lifeline, oxygen and full lung capacity, we look at them at wish for what they have, electric tender otherworldly, lyrics are suffocating, their type of love is so far away from mine, clinging to the past, bringing shame to flush on my cheeks, welling up with need and wanting and helpless. Unable to tear my eyes away from what I want, heart drops. Time stands still.

Lucy Pettigrew is a twenty-two-year-old she/her lesbian poet from Nottingham, UK. She has been writing poetry since she was sixteen and her work now mainly revolves around lesbian themes, coming to terms with the label ‘lesbian’ and the joys and difficulties of wlw relationships. She has been short listed in a couple of competitions, published in Valley Press’ Beyond the Walls 2020 anthology and on the Dark Poets Club website. Her work is due to be featured on The Teeming Mass and in the third edition of Femme Fatale Gals magazine. @lucyptgw on Twitter and Instagram


Every year, as a reward of sorts for ongoing survival, Jess gives herself a Christmas gift. The gift of choice was always a bag of chocolates from a certain sweet shop in town, the same place she and her mum would stop at every time they were in town shopping and doing errands. Three years ago, however, she discovered it had closed for good; the shop owner had died. In those subsequent years, the gifts that struggled to replace the beloved chocolates were high-tech merino wool socks that supposedly did not make your feet sweat (her feet still sweated); a bottle of Laphroaig that she thought would last the winter (it was gone by New Year’s Day, she had no idea Ivy was so fond of whiskey); and a vibrator that made such a bloody racket the one time she used it that they probably heard her wank all the way to the next city and now it sits shamefully unused in a unmarked box in the closet (when her son had stumbled upon it he assumed it was a foot massager and she had to bullshit on a massive scale—factory recall! fire hazard!—to get him not to use it as such). This year she had forgotten to buy herself a gift. It’s Boxing Day. The telly shows the Yule Log on a loop to an empty house. Earlier, Ivy had put on the Yule Log on as a joke; the fireplace needs fixing and she didn’t have time to get it repaired before the holiday. An epic fail for Christmas, she had said mockingly, in a certain light, well-practised tone that always belied her silent, furious self-criticisms.


But they had a laugh about it and drank hot chocolate spiked with whiskey (not Laphroaig, but something with a fair amount of posh twaddle on the bottle that employed phrases like small batch and refreshingly artisanal), and just when Jess thought the day couldn’t get better, Ivy kissed her and she realized that this was the real gift of the year. Of any year, really. The kitchen smelled of spices and meat and Ivy’s mouth tasted of whiskey and chocolate as her hand curled a warm caress against Jess’s neck. The joyous shiver that went through Jess caused her to grip Ivy’s waist—perhaps too hard, she thought at first, but then Ivy moaned in her mouth and the kiss went on, spawned a life of its own that grew over a millennium and solved climate catastrophe and other pertinent world problems like the continued popularity of Uggs, at least it felt like that until they were both startled back into holiday reality when the Yule Log music on the telly suddenly went full-on Christian choral aggro: Joy to the world, the lord has come! Startled, Ivy broke the kiss and wobbly Jess back-pedalled away, stuffing her shaking hands in the back pockets of jeans, and they both looked about nervously as if Jesus himself had crashed their party of two riding in on a reindeer and triumphantly holding aloft a fruitcake in each hand. Fruitcake we have heard on high, sweetly signing over the plains!—Jess’s mind spiralled into unwanted riffs because she could not believe what had just happened. She wanted to touch her own tingling lips, as if that alone would somehow verify that this thing she had so longed for, and for so many years, had finally come to pass.

Elizabeth is a 30-year-old lesbian who studied English and Philosophy at the University of Sussex, and Business Management at the University of Southampton. She wrote for the student LGBT newsletter at Sussex Uni, but has not had work published before and primarily writes for her own amusement. (The following black out poem is also by Elizabeth Last.)


I have been hiding in the tea shop, the one with the teak walls and the tiny round marble tables you can't help but bash your knees on. There's Oolong tea in stackable teacups and a choice of peach panna-cotta, hazelnut mousse or a slice of burnt milk cheesecake for mid-afternoon dessert. Of course, it's shockingly privileged to stop for dessert in the middle of the day, but it brings me comfort, besides I can write it off as a business expense. I come on Saturdays too, to avoid staying home lounging in drawstring trousers, which I used to enjoy when being left alone was a decision, not a marital status. It has now been Spring for two other seasons, and I had planned for walks in Greenwich Park, tapas at Borough Market and weekend trips to Bath. I didn’t think to plan for becoming a single woman, again, at forty—at this point, I might as well change my twitter bio to "Just got out of, yet another, short-term relationship". I think I’ll go for the cheesecake today, I love how the- My phone vibrates. A text. An American number so it must be you, Where are you taking me for drinks? The presumption, the arrogance. Every time. By now, we have found each other in Zurich, LA and Hong Kong; under the sun, the rain, the stars and the city lights. Serendipity, you called it in the back of a taxi at sunset in Tokyo. Are you stalking me, Grace? I asked on a plane to Bali. Oddly romantic, don't you think? You shouted in Lisbon when I walked by you sitting outside a café. Are both our bosses sending us, a food critic and a travel reviewer, to the latest fashionable places in the world every time? Yes, yes they are. Nevertheless, I too attribute magic to the fact I can be anywhere in the world and have the weird feeling you're nearby. More often than not, you are, which brings


me a different type of comfort I can't yet name. When you’re not, I search for you in hotel bars and late-night eateries and give them 2-star reviews. I take you for drinks in Mayfair. You arrive ten minutes late, which you tend to do and I tend to forget, you kiss my cheek and sit with me at the bar, and for a minute we say nothing. It feels foreign to be in your company, despite us having been inside each other more times than the fingers on our hands can count. We order our drinks—your tequila, my milk punch—and on your first sip, you overspill your charisma onto me with the promise to lick it all off afterwards. I remember how much I like you, how with you days last forever and end too soon. I wonder if you could be a decision, if you could even, perhaps, be a marital status. In endless spring, come December, it still darkens at four in the afternoon. When we wander the streets on the way to your hotel in the evening, the grass smells of sunlight while the cherry blossom trees glow pink in the moonlight. I forget all about my twitter bio and start planning for you to stay.

Nadia de Castro designs logos for a living and has written/directed short films and plays. Her stories have recently been published in Cabinet of Heed and Nymphs. She lives in London with her wife and their dying plants. Twitter @nadiacastrouk Instagram @nadiastaysstill


'


Elsa Girardo is a young, lesbian artist based in Northern Virginia. She has just recently graduated from UVA-Wise with a degree in art. During her time at UVA-Wise Elsa explored a variety of mediums and she has found that she most enjoys painting, printmaking and graphic design. Elsa uses her art as a way to participate in activism. Most of her works are centered around being a lesbian and trying to uplift the queer community, however in more recent times as the Black Lives Matter Movement is pressing on, she has also made artwork to fundraise for Black trans people in this time of need. You can follow Elsa’s artistic journey on Instagram @elsagirardoart and on tiktok @mygirlfriendsboobs. If you would like to support this young artist you can buy artwork from her Etsy: ElsaGirardoArt Email: elsa@elsagirardo.art


You came to me across the tides and I chose you out of thousands I place you to my ear and you capture the sound of my blood Curled up next to you I can hear myself for the first time


Your soft exhale balloons up around us, a parachute to shelter new muzzled desire We are blanketed in your hot breath, fashioned into a fort Around our heads, collecting in the quiet, pillowed under the stirring of your gasps, mingled with mine, are broken questions, halted by fear, murmured secrets in the dark, and a confession, still just an unspoken flutter in the current of our confidences A microcosm of whispers, tucked away in this place We created a universe, for keeping them safe I foster each word, I guard them with care Safe in my world, just under your breath

Lucia Larsen is from Chicago and is currently studying for her Masters in Environmental Management at the University of Stirling in Scotland. Her work has appeared in The Unpublishable Zine and Tealight Press. Twitter @mslucialarsen Instagram @lucialarsen


the moon rests taking time for herself hovering over a sea made calm without tides where I loved playing as a tomboy in Spain while other children, Unable to swim, floated easily in the Dead Sea upon reaching adulthood my unusual heart struggled surviving against ribs made sore incapable of feeling the way most female hearts do until the moon began rising tide after tide so rapidly within me, I must confess, I’ve never been a skilled swimmer floating back into your arms again and again after tasting the salt on your lips revealing why my heart was created differently, deliberately


bending, breaking the rules naturally like my Mediterranean and their Dead Sea proving I can desire deeply fall in ocean-wide love completely only for another woman designed just like you and I

Cristina Munoz is a Spanish/Australian androgynous lesbian, musical lyrical poet and writer living in Australia with the love of her life and their two daughters. Originally published by Triple J at 19/20 after entering their ‘Word Up’ Competition for young poets and then ‘Poetry Australia’ she stopped submitting her work until she became permanently disabled after her third back surgery in 2014. After Cristina turned 48 in 2016 she was inspired to begin submitting her work again which she had filed away for over two decades. Her work has since appeared in 'Hellbent Magazine', 'Wanderlust Magazine', 'Five2One Magazine', ‘SeaFoamMagazine, in numerous anthologies & she is also a regular contributor for Spillwords.com. Fuelled by deep love of indie music she is also co-writer for the single ‘Going Home’ by Australian-Swedish Indie band Tiny Fighter & the founder of @soundofwomen. Twitter @crstinamunoz8


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A British born artist, working predominantly with paints. Now living in Perth WA, Olivia is an art therapist and artist. She works with all subjects mostly nature and the ocean. The power of creativity to heal and develop a persons well being is the fundamental reason why Olivia continues an art practice along side a full time career in health and well being. Olivia teaches art, creates large canvases and community murals. Olivia can be found on Instagram at: @livrobinsonart


Today is my anniversary, which means I've been married for three years and with my lovely wife for eight. The wedding was predictably beautiful - but the circumstances leading up to the first kiss should've probably landed me with a hefty fine. Eight years ago today, I was supposed to be back at college. The semester started in two days. But I had this friend, and she was throwing a party. I went to the party instead. I dragged my now-wife along because we were best friends, even if I'd quietly spent all summer just...stewing. About her. You see, I’d known this best friend for a few years now. We’d met when I was a junior in high school and she was a freshman—now I’m heading into my second year of college, and she was a senior. We’d bonded over every little thing when we were in school together, sang in the choir, hung out pretty much all the time, and so on. She was a joy to be around, and I knew she was questioning her sexuality, but the idea to ask her out hadn’t quite settled into my head. Anyway, we ended up leaving the party early to talk about stuff (the guy she’d recently broken up with, the girl who had been hitting on her who I hated, etc) and we went to a park. There was a mood. We started on opposite benches and ended up on the same bench. We held hands. There was no cause; it just happened. But she had a curfew so we left the park around 11:30 at night. . . . or tried to, rather, because it turned out the park closed at 10 and we were legitimately locked in! The gate was closed. So I did a stupid thing, as I'm prone to do a lot—I drove over the lawn of this upper middle class,


HOA-having neighborhood in my trashy '97 Dodge Caravan, screaming all the while. We made it back onto the road and my heart was pounding. Adrenaline was surging. In the 30 second drive to her house, it didn't wear off, thus giving me the courage to do yet another stupid thing—I kissed her cute face.

S D Simper has lived in both the hottest place on earth and the coldest, spans the employment spectrum from theater teacher to professional editor, and plays more instruments than can be counted on one hand. She and her wife share a home with their three cats and innumerable bookshelves. www.sdsimper.com/ Twitter & Instagram: @sdsimper (for instagram and twitter) Facebook: www.facebook.com/sdsimper


Charlotte Bunney is currently a university student in her final year of studying Classics. She has enjoyed making art her whole life and generally draws inspiration from the natural world; she has a particular interest in the sea. She enjoys working in various media but most frequently works with gouache, watercolour and text. Her favourite authors are Daphne du Maurier and Virginia Woolf and her favourite artists are Gustav Klimt and Maggi Hambling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgneN3AUxGM&t=159s


We always forgot to do things for ourselves But we never forgot what we did for each other. I’d water her plants and move them into sunlight. She’d stack my books in the order I was reading them in - or so I said Moments captured in the quiet had me hoping We’d always forget something. She left juice on my night stand when she found out I didn’t like tea. But every night I kept the stove going Because she loved it We didn’t forget about each other Just everything else in between.

Liv is a 21 year old poet, and as some might know, who didn’t get into poetry and piano until a few years ago. She stumbled across Natascha Graham’s poetry book last year, Her, and immediately fell in love. She think that’s where everything took off. Meeting this epic duo (Natascha & Lori Graham). They helped her tap into sides of poetry she never knew she had. On days where she’s not writing, when it’s safe to do so, you’ll often find her in the corner reading abook or playing piano.


The lines of her hands fold a she folds into me for the last time we do not see ourselves in Technicolor nor on TV I am old now the lines they do not want to see mean I have lost some part of my reality I am invisible but please do not think this means I can do as I please oh, no I am more constrained now more than ever before my lover in my arms dies before me


I am erased because I am a woman I am erased because my lover is a woman I am erased because my hair is white I am erased.

Coco LaGuin has 47 years experience working closely with the arts as a costume designer at the ThÊâtre du Châtelet. She has moved from place to place through many towns and countries to find herself. Her artwork reflects this process. (Artwork on the following page is also by Coco.)


The girl stocking produce at the grocery store was humming an Indigo Girls song and I stopped, paused, really, on my way to the mushrooms to harmonize softly under my breath.

The girl stocking produce in the grocery store Was humming an Indigo Girls song And I stopped, paused, really, on my way to the mushrooms To harmonize softly under my breathe It reminded me of you, of that night on the floor of the basement when we poured endless refills of wine into one glass your lipstick marking the rim of your side as you told me about a lover who sang both parts, depending on her mood. The grocery store girl pretended to be unaware that my eyes had gotten glassy and I’d sung the chorus twice with a bag of carrots in my hand but she smiled at me before moving on to shelve the radishes.

Rae Rozman is a school counselor in Texas. Her poetry, which often explores themes of queer love (romantic and platonic), loss, and education, has been featured in several literary magazines and anthologies. She can often be found curled up with a sci-fi novel or sampling vegan baked goods as her partner bakes. You can find her on Instagram @mistress_of_mnemosyne sharing poems, book reviews, and pictures of her two adorable rescue bunnies.


I didn’t know heat had a taste but the window I have open does little to lessen it It’s heavy on my tongue and bitter down my throat and louder than the music I keep turning up. I want to get lost in the chords of a song I don’t like (I want to smell your hair again.) I didn’t know heat had a taste but it tastes like ‘hello’s and ‘goodbye’s and (you’re further away with every second) it tastes like incessantly cursing the universe and the distance (and finally getting what the author had meant). I didn’t know heat had a taste but if I close my eyes there’s still that flavour of a palm-sized supernova, a forest fire, the adrenaline rush before a really long fall and the pure relief of the ocean around you. a drunk sunset. a hungover sunrise.


Marta Ĺ poljar is a writer, a translator and a full-time student from Zagreb, Croatia. She also runs social media for The Wondrous Real magazine . Her work has appeared in Krilo, Novel Noctule, and Anti-Heroin Chic . Twitter: @shhhhhpoljar


Cold winter morning, we get ready to leave while I struggle to convince myself that this time it is not the end. Passengers aboard the early train. I won’t cry. I’m not that type. Taken seats and nowhere left for us. Coffee spilling. I’ve been told countless times that I’m strong enough but I’ve never thought I’d hear it from you in such a different light. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. They predicted, even when I ignored this, that it was our last ride.


And I asked you not to look back while standing at the gate. But I cheated as soon as we’d parted my eyes searched for you in the crowded space, Eager to see you one last time. Your backpack was all I could spot as you walked away from us. How could I not know you’d turned away again So easily.

Vanesa is a 27 year-old Argentinian aspiring writer. She works as a certified literary translator, and teacher of English as a Second Language. She has been translating English speaking lesbian poets into Spanish as a researcher for some years now and assisting in her university’s literary courses. Her passion is studying, teaching, translating and writing literature. She is particularly interested in poetry, especially queer poetry, as she believes that lesbian representation matters. www.about.me/vendittivanesa www.linkedin.com/in/vendittivanesa


The doctor tells me I’m ok. And I am ok I guess but when she checks my blood she doesn't see the difference between mine and hers the optician tells me I'm ok. And I am ok I guess but when they check my eyes for spots they only see the deterioration of my eyesight not my mindset my mum and dad tell me I'm ok. And I am ok I guess but they make fun of two gay men holding hands in the street they mutter "that's disgusting" when two women kiss on TV so I tell them I am ok because I don't want them to hate me too


It is surreal, living a secret life in a house that acts as part prison and part sanctuary from the world outside, she could drink lots of wine she could slice slice slice the soft white skin on her arms with her dad’s razor blade she could take drugs like the teenage lesbians, she sees on TV instead, she writes poetry for no one

Hannah Jones is our youngest poet at 15 years old. These are her first published works.


She stands in the corner of the pale green room, watching silently as the carers fuss over Beth. Today is a ‘bad’ day so her presence doesn’t have a significant impact on the events unfolding. She came along because she wanted to, not because Beth needs her there. Ironically, that's the opposite of what this whole decision is about, it's what Beth needs, not what Annie wants. That doesn’t stop the guilt from settling low in Annie’s stomach and keeping her up at night. That will only get worse, she supposes. Even the nights when Beth wasn’t really there, she was still present, beside her, the way she had been for over three decades. The bags are mostly unpacked and the paperwork was all signed earlier. She could leave now and that would be that. Done. But she knows she will linger. She isn’t ready to go home yet, to be alone. Annie’s brother is going to call her later tonight to check how it all went. As fond as she is of him, there is an undeniable seed of resentment in her brain. He gets to be on the other side of the country. He isn’t leaning against a bare wall watching a stranger explain what time the love of her life will get her dinner that evening. She’s sure whatever food Beth’s given will be more appetising than anything she manages to put together for herself later, if she can face eating. Most days, Annie selfishly hopes she will be missed as much as she will miss Beth. It feels unbearably cruel that after so long of sharing everything, she will mostly suffer through this separation on her own. If she didn’t understand how horrific this disease is, she would allow herself


to feel jealous that Beth will be immune to some of the torment she is feeling. With the exception of the photographs placed around the room, on "bad" days she will most likely have no recollection of what she is missing. At home though, their home, full of their memories and their life together, Annie will have no choice but to recall what she has lost They sit in silence for a while. Beth is staring at the window while Annie looks at her, trying to commit her face to memory, as though she couldn’t summon it perfectly in her mind any time she wanted to. Beth eventually looks back, and it is clear that she still doesn’t know who she is or what she is doing there. Annie takes that as her cue to leave. She promises that Beth will like it there and that she will be back tomorrow to see how she has settled in. Beth squints behind her glasses, trying to make sense of the unfamiliar person before her, but remains silent as Annie takes her leave.

Susan Wardlaw has been writing for as long as she can remember but has only recently started to submit her work. She currently has fiction published by Tealight Press, and continues to scribble away in her corner of Scotland. Twitter: @suze_wardlaw


She’s thoughtful and she’s kind and sometimes she’s completely blind to the fact that her words cut through me like a knife she’s messy and she’s rarely on time but every day I get to say that she’s mine And sometimes as I lie awake at night I worry about the day she’ll leave me figure out I’m not good enough or we’ll get into a huge


fight and she’ll walk out the door and I’ll fall to the floor in fear of not being able to cope on my own But the next morning as the light trickles in she’ll pull me near and whisper in my ear with a grin on her face and she’ll tell me she never wants to leave this place And all will be right with the world

Hannah is a poet, playwright and freelance writer based in South London. She has a first class honours degree in Creative Writing from York St John University and she is currently studying for her Masters in Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. Instagram: @hannahpetch


Welcome! Please tell us a little bit about you, your work, and how you found yourself where you are today? My name is Clare Lydon and I’m a full-time lesbian romance author. But if you’d told me this a few years ago, I’d never have believed you. Back in 2013 I was working as a full-time online music journalist and had been doing so for 8 years. I loved my job, but I’d been wanting a change for a while. Then in 2013 I was made redundant. I got a chunk of money – enough to see me ok for at least a year – so I decided to get that half-written lesbian fiction story out of my drawer and finish. I did that while I still had my full-time job, so by the time I left, I was ready. It still took me another year to publish after submitting it to one of the big US publishers and getting rejected. In the end, I decided to set up my own company and self-publish. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. In the six and a half years since my debut, London Calling, came out, I’ve released 16 novels and a handful of novellas and boxsets. I’m most known for my London Romance series, as well as some best-selling standalone novels including 2020’s smash-hit, Before You Say I Do. I write British-based romcoms with a guaranteed happy ending. If you love women cracking jokes and falling in love, my books are for you! Tell us your coming out story in 4 words.


It’s never bloody done! (I came out to my roofer this morning. To an estate agent last week.) You had planned to write three books in 2020, the most you have ever written in one year, how is that going? Actually it was four! But what I realised this year is that releasing a book drains me of emotional energy. Every time you release a book, you’re putting a little of yourself out into the world. With 2020 demanding so much more emotional energy anyway, I decided to stick with three novels this year, and I will achieve that. I think three novels a year is my sweet spot! So far I’ve released Before You Say I Do and One Golden Summer. My Christmas romance will be out in November. I have written Hot London Nights, London Romance book seven, but I won’t be releasing it until January 2021. Many writers and artists that we have spoken to have noticed a marked decline in their productivity during Covid-19, whether that be because of stress and anxiety, or struggling with concentration or inspiration. How is Covid-19 affecting your writing? It hasn’t affected my writing too much. By the end of the year, I will have released three novels and one novella, and written a fourth novel. So productivity-wise, I’ve done pretty well. But this year has been draining because I’ve had to cancel three trips away. I was meant to have two weeks in Mexico in October, and two weeks in Canada in November. I won’t be going anywhere now, but I have to make sure I still take the time off. 2020 is all about manufacturing your own sunshine, isn’t it? Tell us about your writing process? Where do you write, and what do you find helps your creative process? Pre-Covid, I used to write all my first drafts in cafes and in my local library. But I’ve adapted and now I write them in my office. Covid made me get an ergonomically sound set-up finally in my office, too. My wrists are already thanking me!


I write my first drafts in 4-6 weeks, then spend 3-4 weeks writing the second and third drafts, before it goes to my copy editor. When it comes comes back to me, I spend a couple of weeks finalising the next draft, before giving it to beta readers, and then my ARC team. The whole process takes around four months if everything goes well. The main thing that helps with creativity is getting out there and living life. Having your eyes and ears wide open and soaking up new experiences all feed into your writing. My Christmas romance is set in a fictional village, based on one I visited on a weekend away last year. Some of the characters featured are based on real life! One Golden Summer is set in Sandy Cove, which is based on Whitstable, a town I was in last week. Before You Say I Do features a yacht trip that was based on a hen do I went on last year, too. Real-life experiences often inspire fiction. Tell us about “Lesbians Who Write”, the weekly podcast you have with TB Markinson? Where can our readers listen and what topics do you cover? Lesbians Who Write was born after TB Markinson and I met up a few times in a pub for drinks and made each other laugh quite a lot. I told her it would be good to do a podcast where we talk about writing, and we could hopefully inspire other authors who want to write lesfic. So we did. We drop a fresh episode every week, and we talk about the nuts and bolts of writing, lesbian fiction, of running your own writing business. We also discuss health, writing craft & process, mental health, keeping fit as a writer, how much money you can make, and how we get our books into the world. Our aim is to demystify the world of being an author, and also make you smile. You can find the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or any podcast app. Just search for Lesbians Who Write and we should pop up. How do you handle rejections, hate mail etc? Rejection is a part of life. Getting rejected by Bold Strokes Books for my debut was the best thing to ever happen to me, so I thank them wholeheartedly! As for hate mail – I don’t get much. I sometimes get bad reviews, and that’s all part of the writing business. Some of them are warranted, some of them are not. You can’t control other people and


their reaction to your work, so you just have to accept it and move on. Your energy is better spent focused on what you can control: writing better books that readers love. How do you feel about the representation of lesbians in literature, and on-screen? It’s getting better, but it can always improve. Plus, we still die far too much, and what is the fascination with period dramas and lesbians right now? I don’t like period drama, so it doesn’t sit well with me! I loved The L Word: GenQ, I think they struck a good balance of old and new. We need more modern, everyday representation of lesbians and queer women on-screen. There are plenty of stories in books that are begging to be made into TV series and movies. If anybody wants to turn my London Romance books into a series, I’m open to offers! If you had to spend a day with a queer character from a novel (one of your own, or someone else’s) who would it be and what would you spend the day doing? Definitely Caid from And Playing The Role of Herself. I’d like to go onto the set of the cop show she stars in, meet Robyn and go for dinner with Caid, Robyn and Liz. Those characters are larger than life and it’s a crime that KE Lane has never written another book. It’s my favourite lesfic ever, hands down. You are easily one of the most organised authors I have come across. You have a brilliant website, with recommendations, a blog, podcasts and audiobooks. You have a strong social media presence, you never seem short of fantastic novel ideas. You make it look easy! Can you tell us a bit about the ups and downs of being an independent publisher of lesbian fiction? Ha! It's anything but easy. I love having my own business, but I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I do working for myself. My boss is a hard taskmaster. The key to getting stuff done is to put it on your calendar and work towards it. Plan ahead and work out the steps to getting things done. It really is that easy and that hard. At the start of every year, I do a schedule for each month. Then I follow that schedule and tick things off as I go. I re-do


my schedule every three months. Not everything gets done, but 75% is a good percentage to aim for. Also, I don’t do this on my own, and I couldn’t. I have a team around me that I employ including cover designers, typesetters, editors, my accountant and my website designers & developers. Knowing what jobs to delegate is key. I could do better at this still, but I rely on my team to keep things moving. I’m really happy with my website redesign and glad you like it, too. It’s my web presence and my brand, so it has to be strong. Plus, doing the podcasts is something I really love. I always wanted to be on the radio, so this fulfils that side of me. As Marina asked Jenny in The L Word, “What is your most influential, important, life-altering book of all time?” Alison Bechdel’s Dykes To Watch Out For series in the 90s schooled me in creating brilliant 3D lesbian characters that I cared about and rooted for. I have every book she’s ever written, and she’s a cracking storyteller as well as a gifted illustrator.


To submit your work for our next issue please check the submission guidelines and open submissions window on our website: www.tippingthescalesjo.wixsite.com/mysite Our Instagram: @tippingthescaleslit And our Twitter: @TTSLitJournal For more information please e-mail us at: tippingthescalesjournal@gmail.com

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Tipping the Scales Literary Journal - Issue 1  

Tipping the Scales Literary Journal - Issue 1 Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, artwork and photography by lesbians, for lesbians.

Tipping the Scales Literary Journal - Issue 1  

Tipping the Scales Literary Journal - Issue 1 Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, artwork and photography by lesbians, for lesbians.

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