Tag: ebook

Drake Novak

An excerpt from Finding Drake Novak

Drake didn’t know where his clan had originally come from. None of them had ever mentioned a home planet. They had always rambled through the galaxy in stolen ships, landing on remote planets, inflicting pain on the natives, feeding until those people were dead, and then searching for another planet. They crushed souls to stay alive the same way vehicles burned fuel in order to move.

One day, his clan settled on a jungle planet where all the people lived in grass huts. Right away, Drake’s family burned down all the huts and enslaved the locals, forcing them to build castles. Drake and his people lived in the castles, of course, while the natives suffered and shivered outside in the rain. Their sadness and anger provided nourishment for the entire clan.

Then the Galactic Police arrived in their white, round spaceships and shot Drake’s parents and siblings with shrink rays. The police snatched them up with tweezers and dropped them into glass tubes. Drake was the only one who dodged the shrink rays and escaped. He jumped into his father’s star cruiser and fled into the sky, scrambling as fast as the engines would carry him. He grieved for his lost family, but he kept on moving.

Eventually, he stumbled across Earth. The planet was a wonderful food source, oozing with despair and misery. Drake glided over North America and landed in the state of Georgia. He found a plastic factory he liked. He sucked the life out of all the bosses and took control of the company. Once Drake was comfortable and happy, he dismantled the star cruiser and sold the pieces for scrap metal. If he had left the ship intact, the Galactic Police could have easily traced it and found him. Drake didn’t mind tearing the ship apart. He had no intention of ever leaving Earth. It was a smorgasbord of sorrows. He planned to drink the sadness of humanity forever.

Drake’s office had two windows in it, one on each side of the room. The left window gave him a view of the parking lot, the street, and the vacant lot nearby. The right window was his observation window, allowing him to look down at the workers and watch them struggle.

Today, Drake stood at the observation window with his hands tucked behind his back and his head tilted to one side. Down below, an elderly woman crouched next to her machine, sobbing and eating nerve pills.

“Look at all those people down there,” Drake said to Mr. Neighbors. “Look at all that delicious pain. Do you know who my favorite employee is? Do you know which one I enjoy the most?”

“No,” Mr. Neighbors said. “Which one?”

“That one,” Drake said, pointing a long white finger. “Brenda May. The little old woman who limps all the time. I love the elderly. They have so many aches and pains. Brenda May can barely walk, but she has to support two young grandchildren. She hates every minute of her life. Her agony tastes so sweet.”

Finding Drake Novak is a dark comedy about an alien who draws his nourishment from negative energy. Malpheus Mallock, a rookie officer from the Galactic Precinct, travels to Earth to arrest Novak. But Malpheus has a problem. His tracking device doesn’t work correctly. Malpheus lands in the front yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine. They introduce Malpheus to fried chicken, sweet tea, and Atlanta Braves baseball. The whole time, Malpheus desperately tries to fix his tracking device so he can capture Drake Novak.

Finding Drake Novak is available on Amazon. The paperback is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click on this text to order a copy.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Lost

Munich, 1998

We found an auditorium where a heavy metal band was playing. Thick smoke floated above our heads. Red laser beams flashed in the air. People danced with their eyes closed, waving their arms in slow motion, grasping at imaginary objects with their fingers. I watched them with nervous curiosity.

After the show was over, I stumbled into the street with Greg and Jesse. It was time to return to the youth hostel. We walked down a staircase in the sidewalk, into the concrete labyrinth where the subway trains lived. We boarded a train and rode through the tunnel a few minutes. Then we stepped off and climbed another set of stairs.

When we reached the top of the stairs and looked around, we didn’t recognize the signs and buildings around us. We had gotten off at the wrong stop. We didn’t know where we were. It was almost eleven o’clock. And we couldn’t call our teacher on our cell phones because we didn’t have cell phones. It was 1998.

So we rambled through the streets, asking strangers for directions to the youth hostel where we were staying. Most of them were friendly and polite, but they had never heard of the Jump In Youth Hostel. We even found a black taxi cab parked indiscreetly on the sidewalk, a common practice in Germany. The driver sat behind the wheel, sipping coffee and listening to the radio. We eagerly asked him to take us to the Jump In Youth Hostel, but he shook his head and started pointing, giving us directions in German. None of us understood German well enough to know what he was saying. We mumbled “danke” and walked away, disappointed and discouraged.

We walked through the subway and found a group of policemen playing cards in a small, dirty room with pictures of naked women plastered on the walls. We explained our predicament to them.

They also gave us helpful directions. In German.

You’ve been reading an excerpt from How to Make an Artist Miserable, available on Amazon. It’s a book about my journey as an artist and the ways I’ve learned to deal with my frustrations. I share a lot of personal stories in it. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99.

You can click here to order a copy.

Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Overthinking

I possess an uncanny ability to take simple, easy situations and make them much harder than they should be. I do a lot of my work in colored pencil, a tedious process that gobbles up hours and hours of my life, especially when I’m filling in a large background. I can easily spend a whole week coloring a blue sky or a brown desert landscape. Because colored pencil drawings demand so much time, I don’t want to get halfway into a picture, make a mistake, and ruin the whole thing. So I like to draw countless sketches and write notes to myself before I begin the final product. Sometimes, I spend a whole month working on one colored pencil drawing.

Many times, when I’m finished, people glance at those colored pencil drawings and show no interest whatsoever.

But if I sit down with a graphite pencil and knock out a little doodle in five minutes, people go bananas over it.

The less effort I put into a project, the better it seems to be.

Since I was a teenager, art teachers and other artists have told me I need to “loosen up” and stop drawing in such a “tight” style. They insist that my manner is too rigid, too forced. And they’re right. I know my work looks better when I relax and stop trying so hard, when I enjoy what I’m doing and have fun with it. I drew the Jack White picture in less than a week, much faster than my usual colored pencil drawings. And people seemed to like it more than the others.

You have to listen to your brain and your heart. If you never think ahead, your life will be brutally short. You will be struck and killed by a bus while you’re walking across the street. But if you think too much, you’ll never cross the street at all. You’ll spend your entire life standing on the sidewalk, biting your fingernails.

For years, I’ve wondered why I make my life so complicated. It’s still a mystery to me, but I’ve discovered two possible reasons.

First, I like to feel like I’ve accomplished something. In the same way an Olympic athlete trains vigorously for years and years in the gym, working tirelessly to claim a gold medal in a particular sport, I like to work vigorously to finish a piece of art. Sometimes, when my priorities get muddled and my common sense slips away, I become more focused on the sense of accomplishment rather than the piece of art itself. In the back of my mind, I want it to be hard. I want it to be challenging. This way, I can revel in the feelings of victory and accomplishment when a project is finally complete.

Secondly, a work of art is a living organism. It grows and develops on its own, often in ways I don’t expect. I tend to plan out every detail in advance to give myself the comforting illusion of control. I use the word “illusion” because I’m not really in control at all. The harder I pull on the reins, the more I strangle it to death.

You’ve been reading an excerpt from How to Make an Artist Miserable, available on Amazon. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Summer Reading

Gary is an eagle with a human head. He lives down in the bottom of a giant spaceship and watches old soap operas. One morning, his octopus friend looks out the window and sees an asteroid coming. He urges Gary to fly to the top floor and warn the people in charge. Gary has never left the basement in his life, but he reluctantly flies upstairs on a mission to save the ship.

During his journey to the top floor, Gary learns that the ship left Earth a long time ago because war and pollution had ruined the planet. The original crew flew into space searching for a new world. But a hooded figure known as the Law Master (who talks to his dead mother’s head) overthrew the captain and took over the ship. Since the Law Master doesn’t actually know how to fly the ship, he keeps everyone divided into two groups and encourages them to argue all the time. No one realizes the ship has flown in circles for many, many years. They’re too busy yelling and screaming at each other.

Gary struggles to reason with the yellow team and the orange team before they all die. The Quality of Life in Outer Space is a good book for kids to read in the car during a summer road trip.

I wrote the book in early 2016 when business was slow at the company where I work. I was laid off for a few weeks, so I sat at home and wrote this demented little book while eating Little Caesar’s pizza and drinking hot chocolate. The main character is loosely based on a collage I made when I was ten years old. I cut out a picture of Jim Morrison’s head and glued it to a picture of an eagle. My friends and I giggled about it for a long time. I’ve never forgotten that.

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is aimed at younger readers, but adults would get a laugh out of it too. It’s available on Amazon. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click on this text to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

The Space Cop

Carl and Christine watched an Atlanta Braves baseball game on their old TV. They were both in their eighties. They both wore thick glasses and hearing aids. Carl sat cross-legged in his armchair, staring at the TV with droopy eyes and a lopsided grin. He wore a button-down shirt, slacks, and brown suspenders. Christine sat on the couch not too far from him. She had a pen in her hand and a folded newspaper on her lap. She was more interested in the crossword puzzle than the baseball game. She wore a pink house dress and black tennis shoes.

Carl and Christine lived in a brick house in the country near the outskirts of Malmut. Their front porch overlooked a small lake. In the back yard, there was a garden, a few peach trees, a rusty tractor, a storage building, and a Chevrolet pickup truck.

As they watched the game, a big white ball came down from the afternoon sky and landed in their front yard beside an oak tree. The ship looked like a golf ball big enough for a man to stand in. Carl and Christine sat straight up, straining to see out the front window, staring at the big ball. They looked at each other, confused.

“Is it some kind of egg?” Christine asked.

“I don’t know,” Carl said in a deep, rumbling voice. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. But I don’t think it’s an egg. I can see a window on the side of it.”

A door opened on the side of the white ball. A young, tall, lanky man stepped out and looked around. He stared at the lake, the sun, the hills, and the house. He wore a shiny red helmet, yellow tights, and white boots. He held a device in his hand that looked like a TV remote control. He slapped the device a few times, shaking his head.

Carl and Christine sat frozen in their seats, staring out the window. As they watched, the stranger in the yellow tights walked through the yard and climbed the brick steps leading up to the porch. A minute later, he tapped on the front door.

Carl stood up and walked across the hardwood floor, frowning and tugging on his brown suspenders. Carl was a tall man with long arms and long legs. He pulled the door open but not all the way. He looked into the stranger’s eyes.

“Can I help you?” Carl asked, still not opening the door all the way. Christine stood beside him, leaning back and forth, trying to get a good look at the visitor.

“Yes, I’m sorry to bother you,” the young man said, taking off his helmet and tucking it under his arm. “My name is Malpheus Mallock. I work for the Galactic Precinct.”

Malpheus looked like any ordinary human being from Earth. He had a mop of wavy brown hair. His neck was long. His Adam’s apple bulged.

“I’ve come to Earth to arrest somebody,” Malpheus explained, brushing the hair out of his eyes. “I know he’s in the local area, but my tracking device has stopped working. The man I’m looking for is an energy parasite who likes to enslave people and feed on their pain. He’s a member of an ancient, evil race. Thankfully, most of them have died out.”

***

You’ve been reading an excerpt from Finding Drake Novak, a science fiction comedy about a malevolent alien who runs a factory in a small town and feeds on the misery of his employees. Finding Drake Novak is available on Amazon. The paperback version is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Out of Time

An excerpt from The Quality of Life in Outer Space

The elevator door slid shut behind Gary. He walked along the street. Nearby, a man with a buffalo head stood beside an old streetlamp. The man wore an orange suit. He held a briefcase in one hand and a pocket watch in the other. He looked down at the watch and shook his big, shaggy head in frustration.

“Excuse me,” Gary said, waving one wing.

“Oh, what is it?” yelled the man with the buffalo head.

“An asteroid is about to crash into this ship and kill us all.”

The buffalo man rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time to worry about things like that. I’m on my way to a meeting. A big meeting. I’m waiting for the stupid taxi to come. He’s running late. It’s already seven o’clock in the morning.”

“But this is important,” said Gary. “We’re all going to die!”

“This is the biggest meeting of the year, you fool!” the buffalo man snapped. “You couldn’t possibly understand. We’re preparing for the big screaming contest. It’s vital that the orange team gets control of the ship this year. Now go away and pester somebody else, you little vermin.”

“But none of that matters right now!”

“It most certainly matters!” the buffalo man laughed. “The yellow team wants to ruin everything for everybody. The yellow team wants to take the locks off our doors, confiscate our money, and put our children in slavery. It’s imperative that the orange team wins the screaming contest this year!”

A black car came rattling down the cobblestones. It stopped in front of the streetlamp. The buffalo man jerked open the door and crawled inside. As the car took off down the street again, Gary heard the buffalo man yelling, “You stupid driver! You probably work for the yellow team, don’t you? You want to ruin everything for everybody!”

Gary hung his head and shuffled down the sidewalk. The Styrofoam snowflakes bounced off his head. He had no idea how close the asteroid was. He wished there was a window close by.

He walked to the nearest cottage and clawed at the front door with his talons.

The door opened. An old man looked outside and frowned. Then he glanced down and saw Gary.

“Sir, can I come in for a moment?” Gary asked. “I have something important to tell you.”

“Good morning,” the old man said in a deep voice. “Your face looks familiar. Where did you come from?”

“The garbage,” Gary answered.

The old man titled his head. “Have I seen you before? It seems like I know you from somewhere. I used to see you a lot. A long time ago, when I was just a child.”

“I don’t think so,” said Gary. “I need to talk to you about something right now.”

“Come on in. But I don’t have much time. You’ll have to make it quick. I have an appointment I can’t miss.”

Gary followed him into the cottage. The old man let out a sigh and fell into a leather chair. He had a white beard. It was short and neatly trimmed. He had dark, beady eyes and stout arms.

“What is it?” the old man grunted.

Gary flapped into the air and perched on the armrest of the chair.

“Listen,” said Gary. “There’s an asteroid flying toward this ship. If we don’t get out of the way, it will hit us.”

“I hate to hear that,” the old man said.

“I’ve been trying to tell people, but nobody will listen,” Gary said, talking as fast as he could.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” the old man groaned, staring down at the floor.

“Can you do anything about it?” Gary asked, fidgeting on the armrest.

The old man gulped. “Oh, I wish I could.”

“What do you mean?” Gary panted.

“I wish I could help you,” the old man said. “But I can’t. There’s nothing I can do. My time is almost up. They’re coming for me. They’re going to be here soon. You should probably get out of here before they show up.”

“What? Who?”

“Bird, do you know anything about this ship? Do you know how things came to be the way they are now?”

“No, sir,” said Gary. “I don’t. I’ve lived in the garbage hold all my life. In the dark, in the very bottom of the ship, watching soap operas I don’t understand. I’m afraid I don’t know much of anything.”

“Years ago, when our ancestors lived on Earth, they realized the planet couldn’t sustain life much longer,” the old man explained. “The air was full of poison from all the bombs. The ecosystem was all messed up because of genetically engineered animal soldiers running loose in the wild. There were hornets the size of helicopters and locusts that ate human flesh. And diseases that killed whole cities. Oh, it was a big old mess. So some people in North America built a ship and left Earth, looking for a new planet. And they took along some genetically engineered creatures to do the cooking and cleaning. At first, things were good on this ship. I remember people being happy and getting along when I was a little boy. But that was forty years ago. That was before the old captain disappeared. After he vanished, the Law Master took over. Ever since then, we’ve been flying in circles.”

“Flying in circles?” Gary said.

“Yes. Now we’re barely moving at all. There are lots of people on this ship, more than you would think. Most of them are divided into two teams. Not all of them, but most of them. You have the yellow team. And you have the orange team. And they hate each other.”

Gary frowned. “What do the two teams stand for?”

The old man laughed. “What do they stand for? Not that much. The yellow team says the orange team is trying to ruin everybody’s life. And the orange team says the yellow team is trying to ruin everybody’s life. That’s it, basically. The two teams do have a few minor differences, but they’re pretty much the same, really. They’re just dedicated to hating each other.”

Gary glanced at the door and asked, “Who’s coming? And why are they coming? And how soon will they be here?”

“I committed a crime. One of the worse crimes a person can ever commit. I let my emotions get the best of me. It was a dumb thing to do, but I’d kept it bottled up inside me for too long. It had to come out eventually, I guess.”

“What did you do?” asked Gary, shifting his weight from one talon to the other.

“I went to a meeting and suggested we should all stop screaming at each other. I said we should all lower our voices and talk in a more respectful tone. That way, we could work together and make progress.”

“And then what happened?”

“The whole assembly got quiet,” the old man told him. “Everybody’s eyes got big. They all just stared at me. Both teams hated me for saying it, but I know a lot of people secretly agreed with me. Then the Law Master stood up and pointed his long, green finger at me. And he gave me the death sentence.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Gary yelled. “Why would they give somebody the death sentence just for saying something sensible?”

The old man put his finger to his lips. “Don’t say it too loud, bird! They might come for you too!”

“This whole ship is crazy,” Gary said.

“The window is open,” the old man whispered, closing his eyes and resting his chin on his chest. “Fly out the window now.”

“What?” Gary asked.

“Don’t you hear the footsteps?” the old man said, keeping his eyes closed and his head down. “They’re here. They’re outside. They’re coming up the walkway right now.”

Gary jerked his head back and forth. “Can’t you run out the back door? Can’t you go somewhere? It seems like there’s something you could do!”

“No matter where I go, they’ll find me,” said the old man. “Nobody ever gets away from these people. I’ve been around for a long time. I know. There’s nowhere to go, nothing to do. It’s over now. I’m just going to sit here and wait for death. But I wish you luck, little bird. I hope you have some success.”

“No!” Gary cried. “You’re the only sane person here. I don’t want you to die!”

The old man smiled and opened his dark, beady eyes. “Bird, I know why you look familiar now. I know where I’ve seen your face before!”

“What are you talking about?” Gary said, shaking his head. “How is that possible? I’ve lived in the garbage all my life. This is the first day I’ve ever left the basement.”

“I told you we had a good captain when I was a boy,” he said. “Back when things were better. I don’t know what happened to him. But you look just like him. The human part of you, I mean. You know, your face. Your face looks just like his face. You look exactly like him. Same eyes, same nose, same chin, same hair.”

Gary snorted. “But how can that be?”

The front door exploded with a loud crash. Splinters flew all over the carpet. Gary screamed. The old man didn’t move. He just sat there, waiting for death.

“Go,” he urged Gary.

Two men in black suits stomped into the cottage, carrying silver guns. Their heads were bald and smooth. Their skin was light green. Their eyes glowed red. They both opened their mouths at the same time and showed their long, pointed teeth.

“There’s the criminal,” said one.

“Let’s carry out the execution,” said the other.

They raised their guns at the same time.

Gary didn’t want to abandon the old man, but his own self-preservation instinct took over automatically. He jumped off the armrest and flew as hard as he could out the window, into the flurry of Styrofoam snowflakes. Once he was in the air above the cottages, he glanced down and saw white light flash in the window of the old man’s home. He heard a long cry. Gary thought it would be short and quick, but it went on for a long time. The screaming and moaning and weeping seemed to last forever.

Gary cringed but kept on flying.

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is available on Amazon. Gary is an eagle with a human head. He lives on the bottom floor of a spaceship in a room full of garbage. When he looks out the window and sees an asteroid approaching, he takes off on a journey to the top floor to warn the crew. He learns some shocking secrets along the way. The Quality of Life in Outer Space is aimed at younger readers, but adults will enjoy it too. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

How to Make an Artist Miserable

One time, my boss asked me to draw a portrait of his children. I didn’t want to do it. In order to draw a picture, I have to want to draw it. Drawing is hard, tedious work. I can’t spend three or four hours huddled over a piece of paper if there’s no passion in my heart. But my boss kept on hounding me. A couple of weeks later, when I reluctantly agreed to draw his children, he gave me a tiny, tiny photo of them. I could barely see their faces at all. I couldn’t make out any detail. In fact, the kids didn’t even appear to have noses.

That portrait was one of the biggest headaches I’ve ever experienced.

Soon afterward, I learned how to say no to people. Now my life is much smoother. I’m no longer burdened with a bunch of unwanted assignments. My schedule isn’t cluttered with pictures I don’t want to draw. I don’t live at the mercy of other people. I only draw the pictures I want to draw.

How to Make an Artist Miserable is more than a grumpy rant. It’s a book about the ways I’ve learned to cope with annoying people. Yes, it’s short. But it’s the most raw, honest, sincere, vulnerable book I’ve ever written. (I wrote most of it in the wee hours of the night in a little restaurant in Alabama while drinking coffee and eating pecan pie.)

The paperback version is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99.

You can click here to order.

Copyright 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading.