Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Titles of Stories I'm Working on Now

1. The Sun Appears and the Sun Goes Away

2. Two Negatives

3. To the Cherokee Strip

4. The Judas Steer

5. Donna & Morris 4-Ever

6. The Corn Dolly

7. The Shootist

8. Dove/Serpent

9. You Should Always Call a Mountain Grandmother

10. Typhon's Broken Heart

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Post with No Structure, Part of an Ongoing Collection

Home alone today...for awhile at least. My father in law is bringing me lunch in an hour or so and my daughter will be coming by to see me later this afternoon. My great love Heather is back at work after a week and a half off with me for the surgery. I miss her and the house is quiet and lonely and strange.

It's been a couple of hours since I started this blog post. I've had my lunch and now I'm watching Criminal Minds in that binge kind of way I tend to do when I need my mind fully occupied. Talked with Heather a few minutes ago and I've got a plan to talk my family doc into signing a release for me to return to work with no duties. That kind of thing. I'd do better sitting at work and talking with my friends and being able to see Heather than I am sitting here lonesome and feeling strange and out of sorts.

Well, this isn't very interesting, I imagine. It's recovery rambling without purpose. Been doing a lot of that here lately. What can I say? Not much in the mood to write pieces that have essay-like precision et cetera. Not really sure I can do that or ever have. Doesn't matter.

Doesn't matter. Yes indeed. That's something that's happened since my heart surgery. My lifeline has been shortened. Well, it's been lengthened. But at the same time I have to face the reality that I have a bad heart. A really bad heart and a blood disorder that makes it even worse. I'm not going to trying to figure out what to do during my eighties. Let's put it that way. But the doesn't matter thing can be summed up by saying that with certain perspective a sizable chunk of worries and concerns just sort of slide away. A person begins to focus on the really really big stuff, the important stuff. Family, loved ones. A sense of purpose, of place. The little things really and honestly do not matter all that much.

Rambling again.

Okay, so I'm going to sign off for now. I've got another episode of Criminal Minds coming up and I'm due some Tylenol, as my sore and aching chest and heart muscle has been telling me for the past hours.

Monday, November 27, 2017

JMWW Nominated "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide" for Best Small Fictions

So Jen Michalski and the rest of the wonderful editors at JMWW nominated my short story "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide" for Best Small Fictions today. I've been reading JMWW for nearly ten years and it's one of my favorite journals. I hadn't submitted anything to them in a long time when I sent this story their way. It seemed to have that JMWW feel to it, seriously. I guess it really must have. They published it fairly soon after accepting it and now it's up for inclusion in BSF. I'm so grateful to everyone there, but especially Jen, Linda Simoni-Wastila, Kristin Bonilla, Kristin Bonilla, Becca Borawski Jenkins, and Jolene McIlwain.

Below is the link to their announcement. Congratulations to the other writers listed!

Our 2018 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominations!

Checking In All Journal Style

10:20 a.m.

There's no way I can make it another four weeks out from work. I need my routine back. Bad. I see now why people who are 97 and still working basically refuse to retire. It's all over after the routine is gone. I bet it's just a matter of days after that. Feels like it would be.

I've been checking out some really cool online journals I'd forgotten about. Most of the morning I've been traveling around reading from these. I'm definitely going to be sending some work to them soon.

It's pretty much time for my a big ol' nap so I'm going to do that. I've started thinking about cigarettes again and I can't believe I'm doing that. It's ridiculous. I know if I go back to smoking I'll only live maybe another three years. That's crazy. Addiction is crazy. I'm rambling. I know I am. But I'm okay with that. Okay, so I'll check back in later.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It Was a Stranger Things and Sixth Sense Kind of Morning

It's been a good day of recovery so far. I've spent some good time with my Great Love this morning. We watched a few episodes of season two of Stranger Things and enjoyed it. Enjoyed enjoying the time together. I had some kind of flashback thing happen shortly afterwards where I started worrying real bad that we wouldn't have much more time left together because of my heart not being healthy. It got me in a real real bad way. But before that an episode made us want KFC chicken bad and we went down the road and got a big bucket. Came home and ate like a king and a queen. I think that was what made what happen happen, because it was such a great morning in that way. Simple and wonderful and all because I was spending it with her. I just can't handle the thought of leaving her, the thought of her feeling anything but happy and peaceful. I just can't handle a thought like that anymore. She's been through so much.

Now I'm watching The Sixth Sense. I'm just on week two of a six week recovery and I don't know how I'm going to do it. Heather goes back to work in two days and then I'll have my daughter and my mom here staying with me some but it will also be a lot of time when I'm just here alone. I can't do that very well. I used to could, but not now. I guess I'll read and write a lot, watch a lot of tv. Those are the things I've done before when I couldn't do anything else. But yep The Sixth Sense. An absolute classic and maybe the straight up best horror movie ever made. Hard to argue. Really hard to argue.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

With Great Abandon and Courage

Watching a Coltrane documentary. Wow, him and Davis and Dizzy and Charlie Bird. That whole event that happened on the planet at that time. It was an event. I suppose there are those kinds of events in all endeavors - art, literature, science, technology - but somehow this event with these guys seems to have the most magic of them all.

From what I can gather it was about moving forward without a plan and discovering that which can be great. I think it's why Ondaatje chose Buddy Bolden as a subject for Coming Through Slaughter. Ondaatje is a guy who, as he says, "casts his line out into the dark." I love that. He moves ahead with no plan or plotting, only discover. I've always done the same thing with my stories. Sometimes it pays off other times it doesn't. But when it does (and those are the only ones we keep, right?) it really really does. I couldn't imagine sitting down and plotting out a story and then getting a laptop out and typing it all out like I was taking diction or something like that. A writer might as well give up storytelling and become a court stenographer.

If you're out there and jumping ahead with great abandon and courage, telling a story you're not sure will come together by the time you get to the next page, I praise you as a high and mighty true practitioner of the craft.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Heart Surgery Chronicles - Day 7

3:15 a.m.

I've developed an early routine here less than a week into recovering from surgery. Whenever I wake up (this morning that was 2:50 a.m. or thereabouts) I put on some coffee and start an episode of Cheers. I ease into that head space, a kind of mixbag of 80s and 90s love, and then start with whatever story I'm working on at the time.

This morning that story is one I've been calling "Food in Jars". But that's not going to be the title. It'll be something else entirely for sure. Yesterday morning the story was one called "Causality Dilemma" which I had already finished (I thought) and had submitted to around ten journals or so. Well, it needed work so I withdrew it and did the work and send it the same journals again. I know it's better now but maybe not good enough for any of those places. I don't mind it so. Writing it was the main thing for me.

I may check back in again today but who knows. If I do I'm only going to add to this post. I'm off to try to find the penultimate scene for this story so I can then immediately start working on the next one.

8:40 a.m.

Communication breakdown. I'm running out of pain medicine and will soon be without any at all and suffering. I think the way I'll deal with that is forget that it's coming and enjoy however many pain-free moments I have left before it all goes sideways.

3:35 p.m.

Just had some pineapple upside down cake with milk. And, before that, turkey, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and rolls. Thanksgiving leftovers. Not much going on besides that. I wrote a rare post on Facebook concerning agents and Tyrant Books. I'll probably go and delete it in about fifteen minutes.

5:06 p.m.

I've worked since about four this morning on a short story and just trashed about 90 percent of it. The 10 percent I'm keeping is good though. I think I can make something of it. I like the title really well at this point - "Donna & Morris 4-Ever". The small bit I kept had to do with the many ways Donna wants to kill Morris. Such a thin line.

After today I'll be out of medication for pain. It's going to get pretty intense so be on the watch for that. As of this moment, I'm ready to settle in for the night with a good movie (Life, the one with Ryan Reynolds, etc. that's about a little critter turning into an alien or something like that) and a good book, one my daughter gave me yesterday called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Wish me luck as I let these two entertainments drift me off into sleep. When I wake, the whole deal will be much more painful.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It Only Hurt When I Breathed

So I'm hurting this morning. The pain medication wore off sometime in the night. The sac that my heart hangs in is inflamed and swelled. Whenever my heart beats (or more accurately, about every three to four beats) there is a spear of hot pain that runs through my chest, mostly my heart. It finally got bad enough that I gave up trying to sleep and got up about thirty minutes ago.

Percocet. Colchicine. Zofran. Bottled water, room temperature. Seedless grapes.


Resting means writing, today and likely every day for the next five weeks. I've got a pile of books I want to read while recovering, but writing will be the key. Writing is always the key. Among the books are Amelia Gray's novel Threats and Frederick Seidel's The Cosmos Poems. After that it's a couple of BolaƱo's I've been eager to read  - Distant Star and By Night in Chile.

The meds are working good now and the pain is gone for a bit. I need this for more reasons than simply to be free of pain. I've had a bit of trauma I'm working through, too. My medication Antabuse (used for alcoholism but also opiate addiction) was in my system at the time of my surgery. I had taken a couple doses within the time frame that it would still be present and I hadn't remembered doing so. Couple this with the fact that the surgical staff had no idea about it either, and you've got a torturous situation worthy of Hell itself.

Post-op I felt everything, was there for every single second of it. Pulling the drain tube from my chest. Check. My deflated lung pushing against my ribs whenever I took a breath. Check. All of it. It took twenty-six hours for anyone to figure out the Antabuse had effectively blocked the pain medication. I took shallow breathes that felt like knife wounds for that entire twenty-six hours, and that's all I did. I couldn't eat, couldn't drink fluids, couldn't sleep. For one day and two hours my entire existence was pain.

When the medical team did figure out how to help me (which included, among other things, an epidural along with a couple nerve blockers) I could only wait for it to start up again. It hasn't yet, but I'm scared it might, so I wait. I read, I write, and I wait.

At least I'm alive to do it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

That Human Magic

Shooting for Zen, settling for a peaceful two minutes.
Where do I start? With the heart surgery I guess.

I had a rare, minimally invasive bypass surgery this past Friday. It was the first done at the hospital where I had the operation. The local news ran a story about it. The surgery team was on electronic billboard ads outside the hospital the next day. My feet were there, under a green prep sheet, sticking out from the lineup of proud medical professionals posing for the picture.

Basically it was a whole thing.

And it saved my life.

In addition to this fare of poor health was a CT scan result of my lungs that showed some opacity and air pockets. These disturbing scans were found to be perfectly normal for a person who had smoked for as long as I had.

Two huge scares dealt with and done this past weekend. And it's not been the case without some good old fashioned human magic.

I've had so many writers and genuinely good people reach out and offer good vibes and prayers and positive words over the past week. To each of you I say a grateful thanks. If you only knew what I endured post-opt you'd know that every single bit of that human magic was needed. Put simply, I'm literally lucky to be here. And lucky to have people who continue to hope that I am.

Look for some upcoming posts detailing those post-op hours. They were the hardest of my life so far.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Great Jones Street Left Me Speechless & JMWW Made My Day

It has been a really good writing week for me so far. It couldn't come at a better time as I'm about to go into surgery. My spirits couldn't be any higher.

To begin with, Great Jones Street featured a story of mine yesterday and then also informed me this morning that they've launched a "Sheldon Lee Compton Week" there. I'm nearly speechless. It kind of blows my mind.

Before this, a couple days back, I received an acceptance from the top of the line lit journal JMWW for a story called "A Sensational Tale of Symbolic Patricide". When this story hit their website I started getting a lot of responses from people saying how much they liked it. In some cases, going so far as to say they loved it. That kind of thing can put wind in a writer's sails for months and months. Years even. For this I have the following editors to thank at JMWW - Jen Michalski, Linda Simoni-Wastila, Kristin Bonilla, Kristin Bonilla, Becca Borawski Jenkins, and Jolene McIlwain, who all hit the thumbs up button on this story and made my day. Not to mention the artwork they chose is absolutely bullseye.

Back over at Great Jones Street I have three people to thank (to my knowledge, as I know there are probably several more I don't know of. These GJS folks are amazing - Kelly Abbott, Eric Ancker, and Ken Truesdale.

And to everyone who has sent me words of support and encouragement over the past week, thank you. I'm so fortunate to have too many of you to list here without forgetting someone. Just know that you've helped keep me positive by simply a word or two. That's the true power of language sometimes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thanks for the Love & Support

I'm so grateful to my family, my Great Love, my beautiful children, my Great Friend, and the many fantastic friends I have in the indie lit community for all the kind words and deeds over the past several days. That kind of love is magical. Thank you all so much.

Friday, November 3, 2017

New Art: Tattoos #8 and #9

Had a couple firsts today as far as my tattoos are concerned. I got my eighth and ninth pieces done this afternoon, the first time I've sat for two in one day, and, another first, they were both color pieces. I'm pumped. Here's a couple early photos of them, all shiny with A&D and a little swollen. The guitar is for my dad. It was important in his life. So much so that he has one on his tombstone. Guy could play. Starting teaching me at age five whether I wanted it or not. The sparrow is for my grandmother Wanda. I have no real reason for this but have always thought of her when I see a sparrow or hear about a sparrow. The word itself has always brought her to mind. So there she is, always visible to me.My plan now is to go back and have color added to all my other tattoos. I didn't think I would be, but I'm a fan of color at this point. So these are the new ones.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Dogzplot is one of my favorite (easily in my top five) online literary journals. Likewise, Barry Graham, the journal's founding editor, is one of my favorite writer people. Just a great guy all around. I've been really pleased to have two stories published there over the past near decade. One of them I'll share here today. It's called "K" and was based on a really good friend of mine, which is to say that a whole whole lot of it is just plain true. Hope you enjoy, and give Dogzplot and its current editor Jesse Eagle some love while you're there.


Yes, I googled myself. But look what I found!

I googled myself yesterday. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I have a busy online life and so I like to see what...