Featured Author Terra Leigh Bell

Terra Leigh Bell is the latest author published by Babel/Salvage. In August of 2011, she began reading Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and translated by Tobias Smollett.  The Smollett translation struck her as particularly beautiful, and after about six months of reading the book, a poem began to write itself in response to the strange beauty and melancholy whimsy of the novel.  Beltenebros, or the Beautiful Obscure is the result. We chatted with her a while back.  She lived in Seattle at the time of the interview but now resides in Portland, Oregon.  Have a read. 

 Who are you and why are you here?

Oh, dear.  Well, I’m an overeducated, uptight white lady.  I’m obsessed with history and science and I like to write and make “artsy stuff” (please don’t call it Art).  I have high levels of social anxiety but am also blessed with an oddly cheerful disposition.
I go back and forth on the “why I’m here.”  Occasionally I go for the whole accident theory that scientists are so big on.  Mostly I’m so horrified by how awful their writing is, though, that I think the Sufist explanation for existence existing is far more plausible:  “I was a hidden treasure; I longed to be known and therefore I created creation.”


 Let’s say you meet a person whose only sense was a sense of smell.  What combination of scents would you use to describe Beltenebros to this person?
Frankincense, rosewood, and oakmoss.  More rosewood than frankincense, though.


 If Don Quixote were a contemporary character, what sort of profession might he have? Hobbies?


Well, since he obsesses over the past, I see him as a “hard-boiled detective” in the Dashiell Hammett tradition of noir.  His main hobbies would be fixating on the opposite sex and telling everyone within shouting distance what’s wrong with the world, which is probably why we get along so well.

 Aside from literary influences, what in life inspires and informs your writing?  Music, visual arts, food, sciences?

The language and sights and sounds and physical presence of mass.  (Yes, yes, that’s religion; I’m an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian.)  Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more gorgeous and challenging and exotic and comforting than a good religious service.  Preferably one with lots of incense and fancy robes and chanting.


  You’re dead.  Your life is being turned into a movie.  Who’s making it (directing, writing, etc.), who’s starring in it, and is it sticking to the facts?

Carrie Anne Moss doing parkour in Portland, OR

I apologize in advance to whoever gets saddled with this.  Please don’t stick to the facts; they’re intentionally very dull.  First, resurrect Roald Dahl.  He’s the screenwriter, and he’ll take it in a James Bond You Only Live Twice direction.  Hopefully Sofia Coppola agrees to direct it, and Carrie-Ann Moss will star in it.  We look nothing alike, and I can’t imagine her portraying my personality at all, but she’d be bad-ass at the action sequences.  Oh, and lots of parkour.


 What is your personal philosophy of literature or writing, if you have one? If you don’t have one, how do you make it through the day?

I believe in inspiration.  I always know when I’m feeling inspired.  It feels different at different times — sometimes it’s kind of fun and giddy and exciting, but sometimes it’s anxious and scared and on edge — but I follow it when it comes.  When it isn’t coming, I read whatever I want and get lots of sleep and exercise, and it always comes back.  I don’t write unless I’m feeling it.
Also, eat good food.  It makes for better art.

 What is your dream?NoTSEliot

To do good work.  To improve the quality of at least a few people’s lives and not detract from the quality of very many others’ (thought I reserve the right to have some fun).  Also, I’d love it if my work could do that for people, too.  I shoot for being less of a T.S. Eliot and more of a Richard Crashaw.

You can also keep up with the author at http://leighandharriet.blogspot.com/

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Holiday Sale

Terra Leigh Bell’s Beltenebros and Evan J. Peterson’s The Midnight Channel are discounted for the month of December to only $10, including shipping!


These deals are crazy....

These deals are crazy….

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Book Release August 24th at Vermillion


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Glossophonic Showcase VI


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June 26, 2014 · 4:25 pm

GSV: Magma Edition

GSV: Magma Edition

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February 27, 2014 · 7:06 pm

Dirty B/S Clickbait: 33 Writing Tips for Writers to be Good Writers

drunk dog

Writing is very difficult but it need not be intimidating. In 2011, Babel/Salvage Industries teamed up with the Wordless Dictionary Society to study the methodology of great writers. Pouring over poems, cereal boxes, encyclopedias, novels, instruction manuals, skywritten tomes, ancient manuscripts and billboard ad copy, we discovered 33 secret rules that, if followed, are guaranteed to produce beautiful, bold writing. Now, learn the tricks that the literati and linguistic elite don’t want you to know.

33 Writing Tips for Writers to be Good Writers

Write words in the language you speak: the language of love and pain. This rule is pretty silly and may seem counter-intuitive. The clever grammarian may compare it to a cognitive maelstrom. Why get so lost? Or, more clearly, singing into the abyss is still singing even if the singing is abysmal; thus, pay little attention to your emotions because they will pay attention to you and that’s all that matters.

“Take a huge bowel movement every day.”   We stole this tip, and the template for this entire article, from Thought Catalog. In a way, this is redundant advice, as the act of writing is an act of defecation.

Dry hump every-other word in every-other-line. Most of us are mammals and some of us are sentient. A machinic consciousness often oscillates between competitive totalitarianism and commercial pranksterism but  only a biology-thing can jerk-off in an artistic manner. In order to rake in the big bucks and dance in the motherfucking rain, the writer must be a baller. Penelope Coke stated in her 1985 smash-hit memoir Circle me with Angels, “When I imagine myself in certain sexual scenarios, I also imagine myself a hyper-famous novelist giving the earth a rimjob.” Now that’s entertainment! In other spheres of existence, I married a cycloptic soothsayer who wrote with lipstick on the bathroom mirror. That understandably makes people wet.

Ask don’t show and tell don’t televise. This is just a fancy way of saying that you, as a writer, don’t really need to worry about the kind of language that you use as long as that language resembles the various species of emotions. Thoughts don’t matter and are made from mystical energy. That’s stupid.

Write without writing. In my adolescence, I spent hours using my tongue to outline the shapes of my favorite sounds in the spilled sugar behind our house. Some shapes shifted. A million times. What that told me is that sometimes writing isn’t writing. And now it is. Psychologically, every moment of intersection and amelioration is a time for shut up shut up shut up . IRL it doesn’t matter if you have paper or skin so just calm down.

Only read practical advice columns. It’s likely that you, as a mammalian failure-species, do not know how to do things in the correct manner. Like this. Back in the 1970s when I didn’t exist, I thought I could better myself by staring at the embryonic shellspace of heaven (I know it seems weird but my main job in those days was to plug in the cosmic computer) even when the colors escaped etymologically certainty, and, as a protozygotic cherub I couldn’t articulate my sensual data. I didn’t even have hands.

After writing keep writing but before writing stop. I’m very important, so when I watch television I watch shows about cowboys. Are you impressed? I’m probably one of the top ten writers alive right now. If you aren’t as well then there’s really no point so just become a computer salesperson.

Addiction. If the writer is not mentally unstable from natural chemical imbalances, the writer must use performance enhancing pharmaceuticals.

Blow up a cop car. The law no longer applies. Remember language isn’t always words. Fire is a sentence. Cop cars are parchment.  Look at this youtube video for inspiration.

Liar liar pants on fire hanging off a telephone wire. Your audience wants all the juicy gossip about imaginary people like when they go to the toilet or who they’ve killed for fun. The religious right disagrees but secretly not. Some people agree but secretly still agree, making their secrets useless. Make sure to have useful secrets. Get naked and watch a pornographic film. Without access to pornography, you are a fairly useless person and your secrets are tepid.

Cut yourself. We can’t in good conscience recommend you commit suicide but it might be good to at least try. For legal reasons we’re just kidding. Most importantly, stream your efforts like a villain. This is and isn’t satire legalese. Remember that one time I filmed myself in front of a firing-squad for a special segment of Hollywood Squares?  Don’t cut yourself.

Be afraid. All of your fears make you a better writer especially if you fear really stupid things like handles or circles. Subtraction isn’t really an issue. Sometimes I subtract words from my fears. I think about 10 or 20 people have done this before so get on it. Don’t worry too much about the wicked but fear them/yourself. Individual attempts at insult and degradation. Me me me me me me it’s all about me. Many think it’s not really about me.The truth is, my family and my friends, as far as horror is concerned, are wrapped in the sinuous veins of my own aberrant psyche. Apologies for any transgressions. The moral is: every thing that the writer writes is miswritten and then translated into nonwriting.

Every thought has been thought. I know a lot of bodybuilders who could crush your puny literature. Steal their blood. People are apathetic when it comes to that which holds no muscle. Larry Gigglebred informed my mother twelve years before my birth that screaming while happy takes more gearhorses than essay pontificating. There is no other truth. Larry and I use to punch each other when I was just a womber and this ended with some blood bruises and no more thoughts, ideally.

Click-bait is serious. My nose is my most important feature. Women find it reprehensible, or so a blogger skilled in hyperlinks told me. I transformed into a bobcat. This was fun for me. It should be noted that abortion is a form of gun control, if you think about it (don’t think about it because it’s not true). Remember that there are millions of stars in the universe and millions of universes inside of every cell. Draw genitals to get attention. On your face.

Confidence is boring. I mean this like I mean anything. All that matters here is that someone types words (not even you necessarily) and then deletes them;  if this bothers you for moral reasons you may need to go into finance. A very popular celebrity was eventually revealed to be my sister and it is totally appropriate to exploit this connection if you’re willing to slaughter a few pigs and diplomats, metaphorically speaking.

Glue things to your face.Love is the antithesis of moron. If moving lucidly through various temporal fields, with or without the aid of a rear-view mirror, remember the pain-poison of candied optimism. Taste the bile and bring it with you. Where we’re going we don’t need words.

Words? Where we’re going we don’t need words. There has not been a Back to the Future movie this decade. Not one. The only way to truly reach people is through copious references to Back to the Future movies. I went an entire decade making none and suffered, was stabbed, imprisoned, and tortured (by ghosts) for being the kind of kid who knew nothing of flux capacitors, and that trauma has left me impotent. Metaphorically. Not in the groin. Flashing is an acceptable substitute for pop savvy. Just don’t embarrass yourself and talk about the Avengers.

The mouth is an open wound. Don’t write about things that you want to write about. Later, write about them. If it’s a holiday you’d be better off getting blackout drunk. Or not. We didn’t really research this one. The bigger your bloody bone-filled mouth, the less brain matter will seep into your stomach.

Lisp. Trigger warnings are important but if you can’t pronounce them correctly they’re even better. Play with goggles and flame-throwers. On days when your lips seem turgid and your audience is built from tongues (the kind that ALWAYS lick), then take advantage of the moisture. If other body parts are involved, move them with your teeth. I am certain of my body only when someone takes a picture of it and posts it online with the caption “WTF.”

Find the microphone. You do what I tell you to do or you don’t do anything at all. Spiritual enlightenment will come through trend analysis (attend a magazine seminar). Remember that the fashionable are superior to the homeless. Poverty is akin to dishonesty so find yourself a decent stage. I demand therefore I am. In other scenarios, through astral-projection the skintank called “me” experiences moral quandaries but laughs. How to be obedient? Monsters make the rules: they are deformed. Nature has deformed me. Let my blood fists deform you. Everyone hates beautiful people because they are superior beings.

End it with an ellipse! You are meaningless and your writing should reflect that. Try reading some existentialism, you lazy twat. You might learn how to whine effectively. Remember being born and how traumatic that was?

Punctuation isn’t real. Writers are amnesic. They freeze when faced with blood. If the muscles that direct your bones can’t make useful decisions, perform a biopsy. This will make your life shorter. Life is bad.

Sleep. Or don’t. Go to church. Think about your cells as if they are hostile intruders. Do this everyday while lying in bed. Let it keep you awake and let its toxicity destroy you. Go to the hospital.

Cease talking. You’ve been a blabbermouth all these years and people pretend they don’t mind, but they do. Why don’t you just shut up and let the birds whistle?

Give away all your possessions to the wealthy. The founders of Facebook and Twitter need your money. They’ll do better things with it than you. Don’t bathe.

Become an astronaut. Justice is for the earthbound. The cosmos! Planetary destruction! What next? Are you going to let the continent of Asia float into the sun? I know you kind of want this to happen for the pure spectacle of it but don’t be a tool.

Think about zero. I’ve written extensively about this so I would advice purchasing all of my books. All that you need to know is in these books. Don’t know where to find them? You really need to learn how the internet works. Be an adult.

Don’t learn how to count. Life outside of your bedroom is futile. Breathing is something that should only be done with effort. Clichés are your lifeblood. Invent a new one every day. If you cut a small slit in your forehead you can refresh your brain . A lot of people think the brain is an organ or that the mind is the same as the brain but they are wrong.

Fill your heart with hate. No one is here to help you. You can use them, even enjoy their company and make cute smiles at them, but your foundation should always be anger and hostility.

Replace the word “said” with the words “didn’t say.” I suggest you bellow. Just consider your favorite mathematical formula. I’m not sure what I mean by that.

All artistic pursuits are infantile. Waa waa waa.

Have sexual relations with your verbiage. Whatever sentence you’re staring at, try to woo it. Flirt with the sentence, wink, touch its arm, talk, and laugh. Imagine nudity. Take off your clothes.

And then take off your skin. And get rid of your internal organs.

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