Gather round, Martians, and put on some striped socks, because these quarterly reports are serious business.

First, I need to thank the readers, friends, and friends of friends who helped me when I was in dire straits this summer. Things were touch-and-go here for a few months, but your generosity helped me weather the storm.

Just when that storm wore itself out, Martian monsoon season hit, and I was forced to give up the top-secret headquarters that has been my pirate-radio broadcast booth for more than eleven years. I don’t like to blog about my personal problems, but just between you and me and the worldwide web, the only way this year could suck any worse is if Dr. Doom decided to become my personal nemesis.

But as I prepare to set up shop in an all-new lair, I’m reminded to always look on the bright side of life. So, what’s been good about the second quarter of 2018?

The writers’ critique group I started back in February 2017 has been doing quite well. I couldn’t be happier with the three people I chose to be assistant organizers, and they have been the only reason I was able to keep the group going while weathering this year’s storms. My goal was to build the group to the point where I didn’t need to personally handle every single thing at every single meeting, and to have a group that was more about “us” than it was about “me”. Mission accomplished.

Has it been trouble free? No. On average, about once every six months, we get someone who only brings negativity, drama, or rudeness to the group. Then I need to step in to bring down the hammer and remove that person. But that’s taught me something interesting, because in the process I learned that one reason some of these groups don’t last long is that the leaders are afraid to be confrontational and stand up to jerks. So, even on those days where I come up short on people skills, not being afraid to stand up to someone disruptive has turned out to be a useful quality. Maybe being a leader includes being a bouncer if needed.

In other news, a few people said nice things about my recent writings as I’ve workshopped them and performed them at various readings. Some people said my favorite three words: “I love Mags”, which at this point in my life means more to me than if someone were to say they love me. I’m way too into my fictional leading lady of the asteroid belt, so it’s nice when people dig her. Then, a few others said they loved my poetry.

I mention it because these things always surprise me. I just write stuff because I need to write it, or because I need to assemble words in a way that makes me happy and satisfied. Back in my 20s, I got used to no one giving much of a damn about my weird artistic hobbies. Now, when something I made connects with people, I’m basically stunned. I think, “Really? You liked it, too?” It’s the kind of thing that makes me think I should get over being a reclusive bachelor and maybe try to reach a wider audience. Then I think, “Yeah, that might be nice. But really, I just want to finish my next story.” The creation is the fun part for me.

Last month I got a request to use a photo from this blog in a magazine that is interviewing one of my art heroes: Steve Rude. Steve, among other notable accomplishments, was the co-creator of Nexus and the penciller on most of the Nexus issues I absolutely love, even if this blog takes its name from an issue he did not draw. The magazine wanted to use one of my photographs of the Nexus flexi-disc, and I basically told them, “Hell yes, you can use it! And HAIL NEXUS!” I look forward to when that interview issue goes into print, so I can share it with you here.

What else has gone right this quarter? Thanks to readers clicking through my affiliate links, I got enough Amazon store credit to buy some toner cartridges, which are so bloody expensive, and that meant I could keep printing copies of stuff to take to workshop so I can improve as a writer. I also got a little store credit at MyComicShop, but I am waiting to redeem it until I get moved into the new Martian HQ. Thank you, readers, in a big way, because when you make purchases after clicking any of the thousands of comic book, books, and music links in this blog, it’s a lot like sending me a tip. It’s a way of saying, “Thank you, Mars Will Send No More!” And it really makes my day.

A few people contacted me this quarter to ask about a rare and out-of-print Ry Cooder disc that was never made available in the States. This doesn’t happen often—maybe once every couple of months, on average. I keep expecting Ry to send me a nasty email saying, “Stop giving out your mp3 rips of my damn disc,” but it hasn’t happened yet. Instead, a few times a year, I get a chance to connect someone with these wonderful music recordings that are simply not available in my country. Ideally, the album would be put back into print or made available digitally. I don’t know why that hasn’t happened yet, because the album is awesome, and more people in my country should have a chance to enjoy it. Those who ask about it are always super nice, too, and they usually send me grateful follow-up emails saying the album is indeed bloody awesome. It makes me happy to know they enjoyed it.

In my secret identity, I’ve helped several people this quarter get their books in print by contributing editing, design, and self-publishing guidance. Those authors have been incredibly generous in referring others to me so I can build new relationships. My marketing budget is virtually zero, and I survive because of word-of-mouth based on the positive experiences authors have with me. If I am struggling through a challenging week, and then I get an email from one of my authors who tells their friend or colleague how much they loved working with me, it brightens my day.

Just between you and me, I’ve had many jobs where every time the phone rang, I would have rather had a root canal than answer that call. But now that I work with authors who are passionate about making books, I look forward to talking with them. I’ve had stressful days this year where it was a glorious relief to just take a break for an hour or two and talk to someone about creating a book! I love it.

I also got accepted into a second Master degree program thanks to my incredible advisor who smoothed out more paperwork snafus than any advisor should need to. After years of suffering through advisors who seemed hell-bent on either giving me no information or actively giving me the wrong information, I’ve now got one who—get this—actually advises me. It’s amazing! So, on the academic and business frontlines, things are looking good for the next two quarters.

If you made it this far into the post, you’ve digested my 1000 words for the day, and I thank you for dropping by, commenting, liking posts, contributing to discussions of comic books and art, clicking through affiliate links, and being among the coolest bunch of readers a guy could ask for. I wish you all the best for the next quarter, and I look forward to sharing it with you.