EdwardIn loving memory of my brother Edward Charles Britt (April 18, 1959 – July 18, 2014). An eternal optimist, who believed We’ll reach the stars.

Tales in 20 Tweets will resume next week.



TWEET THIRTEEN continues today. Scroll down to find the previous installments. New entries are posted every Saturday, first live on Twitter at 1230 PM Eastern then here on my site. Enjoy!


1 Sonia drove the Crown Royal down the deserted gravel road past a rippling field of blue wheat, wafting in the afternoon breeze.


2 “Flax,” Kine said, without looking up from his iPad. Sonia threw the redhead a bewildered look. “How’d ya know I was wondering that?”


3 “Your brow always furrows when you don’t know the name of something. And there’s nothing else out here to look at.”


4 “You didn’t even look at me.” Kine smirked. “I got awesome peripheral vision. Great for ogling the ladies.”


5 “Oh. So I’m being ogled now.” “Don’t let it go to your head,” Kine said. Up ahead a red pickup was parked on the side of the road.


6 A teenager sat behind the wheel, yapping away on his cell. From his plaid shirt and suspenders Sonia guessed this was their first Hutterite.


7 They stopped and chatted without getting out. The affable kid told them they were just two miles shy of the Hendricks farm.


8 They drove on. “You know,” said Kine, “before this case I thought Hutterites were like the Amish. Sorta freaked by technology.”


9 “Except when used in reality TV shows you mean.” Kine ignored her and read from his iPad.


10 “’Hutterites use computers and internet for keeping in contact with their friends, relatives and meeting people outside the colony.’”


11 He looked to Sonia. ‘It says there’s a citation needed.” “I’ll get right on that.” Soon they pulled up before a dilapidated farmhouse.


12 “Odd,” Sonia said, taking in the peeling white paint on the house. Kine read her mind. “Two years without their daughter might explain that.”


13 Mr. And Mrs. Hendricks looked as run down as their house. Although only 45 they could pass for 60. Both looked frail and world weary.


14 Soon they were all settled in a living room with worn plaid furniture. “We’ve been a mess since your call,” Mrs. Hendricks said.


15 “Relieved,” her husband said. “And horrified. I mean, thank heavens Claire’s safe. But . . . she was just living with a man?”


16 He broke down and cried for a bit, as his wife tried to get him to pull it together. Sonia had the impression that Claire was Daddy’s girl.


17 “It seems just yesterday she was on my knee every evening, listening to the Bible stories,” he said. ‘Bingo,’ thought Sonia.


18 Mrs. Hendricks shook her head. “I still see her room that morning. The bed all made. And I knew. I went right to her stash of books.”


19 She shrugged. “They were gone. Like she was.” “The books,” Mr. Hendricks said, despairing. “I told you Helen. How many times?


20 “Those books came right from the Tree of Knowledge. And where does she end up? With a professor.” He spat the last word, as though it tasted like cod liver oil. TO BE CONTINUED


Here’s a 4 minute audio excerpt from my novel CAMBRIAN. You can read the whole novel for free by clicking the link on the right.



1 Sonia walked into the living room of her townhouse with cup of cocoa in hand, across the bars of streetlight cast by the venetian blinds.


2 She paused on the way to the couch and frowned in the direction of the hallway. On a mother’s instinct she padded down to Colton’s room.


3 The door to her 7 year old’s room was open a crack, as always. Colton slept with a pensive expression in the soft glow of his nightlight.


4 Brody flashed through her mind. He had always slept in that same pensive way. Colton looked more and more like his dad every day.


5 Sonia ran a hand over the dark brown skin of her belly, and over the knife scar there. ‘I hope you’re someone’s prison bitch,’ she thought.


6 She returned to the living room, thinking how a mother’s instincts were so often wrong. So many false positives when it came to danger.


7 ‘Logical,’ she thought, as she settled on the black leather sofa and stared at and through the TV, which was off, as she sipped her drink.


8 Her mind’s eye projected an images on that screen. The first was Claire Hendricks, with her cropped blond hair and tear stained face.


9 She saw her partner’s bewildered expression. ‘Hutterite?’ And Claire’s rueful head shake. ‘I’m a Hutterleft.’


10 Next up was the beer guzzling Freison, and the one thing he said that resonated, the thing that pulsed with the light of relevant truth.


11 “That man only had eyes for Claire.”


12 Sonia got up and started prowling like a panther. In the theater of her mind she saw the university president.


13 ‘I think it was a Rommel,’ Lyons said. ‘I think Daniel was forced to kill himself.’


14 Her free hand dropped below her half shirt, back to the scar, as she thought of the severed power line at Bennett’s farmhouse.


15 “Cut with an axe,” she whispered. She went to the window and looked out, but only saw the axe marks on that wall.


16 Her eyes widened. They always did when the clicks came. “Because the people love the darkness,” she said.


17 She snatched the phone so quick it seemed to fly there. The speed dial of numbers, the click, and Patrick Kine’s sleep filled “Yeah?”


18 “Up for a road trip?” A bewildered pause. “At 4 A.M.?” Sonia smirked. “No silly. I’d never wake the nanny at this hour.”


19 “Oh to be a Nanny,” said Kine, yawning. “What’d you have in mind?”


20 “Iowa,” she said. TO BE CONTINUED


Here’s a 4 minute audio excerpt from my novel CAMBRIAN. You can read the whole novel for free by clicking the link on the right.




My detective story TWEET THIRTEEN continues today. You can read the previous installments here: part 1: part 2:


Here’s part 3:


1 Sonia and Kine headed uphill on the university campus, upstream against the flow of students on a morning with a low gray sky.


2 The redheaded cop looked back at a tall brunette in shorts. He shook his head. “Eyes front Detective,” Sonia said with a smirk.


3 “Aye aye. So what do we hope to find here?” Sonia nodded up ahead, to a kid wearing a black armband with the number 13. “That,” she said.


4 Francis Whitehead wasn’t old enough to be in university, but was. Just 16, he was the winner of the Anderson-Gosling prize in mathematics.


5 Bennett’s intro English was the pimple faced blond’s required bone toss to the Arts. “Bennett was right,” he said, gesturing to his armband.


6 “About what?” asked Sonia. “About our idols. About everything we worship that we’ll have to surrender, if we ever hope to escape our cradle.”


7 “Cradle?” from Kine. “Earth,” Whitehead said. “The professor was always dreaming of the stars, and what we’ll have to do to get there.”


8 “Know him outside of class?” Sonia asked. “No. Not at all.” He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “But talk to Walt Freison. Dalton House.”


9 Soon they were in a dorm room with Freison, a lanky sophomore with dark hair and piercing green eyes, surrounded by empty beer bottles.


10 “Might want to go easy on those son,” Kine said. “Metabolisms slow. Beer bellies emerge.” Freison grinned sheepishly. “I promise I won’t.”


11 When asked why he thought they were pointed his way Freison just shrugged. “Easy. I’m gay. Bennett was a great friend to the community.”


12 Kine jotted on his notepad. “Was he, uh, a member of the community?” Freison chuckled. “No. That man only had eyes for Claire.”


13 Freison quietened a moment. “His brother was gay. Died with AIDS. The professor fund raised, helped with counselling. Great guy.”


14 Finally they arrived at the university president’s office. Wilfred Lyons was 50, balding and portly, but with quick smooth movements.


15 Lyons sized things up quickly. “What you have is an apparent murder-suicide but with only one victim.


16 “Evidence of foul play, with power and phones cut, but no question that Daniel pulled the trigger after leaving a rather quixotic note.”


17 “You think he wrote that tweet?” Kine asked. “It’s consistent. A mutual friend in the philosophy department called Dan a Born Again Nihilist.


18 “Daniel was like an evangelist in condemning materialism, hedonism, all the ways we insulate ourselves from life.


19 “He was known to give spontaneous lectures on the evils of the X Box.” “Okay,” said Sonia. “But was he suicidal?”


20 “No. Absolutely not. He was a man of passion. For words. For life. I think it was a Rommel. I think Daniel was forced to kill himself.”

My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:

Tweet Thirteen, pt. 2


This week continues my tale TWEET THIRTEEN. You can read part 1 here:



1 The slender blond was a live in student of Daniel Bennett’s. Claire Hutchins, just 20, was from Iowa. Good Hutterite stock.


2 They spoke on the veranda, amid the chirp of crickets. “Hutterite?” Kine said, surprised.


3 Claire, who had gathered herself as the detectives checked out the scene, gave her head a rueful shake. “I’m a Hutterleft.”


4 Her story seemed simple enough. A girl with a voraciously inquisitive mind, who liked the boys and hated the rules.


5 A cousin smuggled books into the community for her. She loved sci-fi. Arthur C. Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov. They transported her.


6 Then she read Huxley and Orwell, and was transported in a whole new way. She was struck by these tales, so foreign yet so familiar.


7 Claire wanted to explore that world. And one night she simply did. She was gone 5 hours by milking time. She hitchhiked to freedom.


8 Her first ride was an old guy in a pick up. “The grass ain’t greener out here.” Claire thought of ANIMAL FARM. “I know. It’s run by pigs.”


9 On the interstate she was picked up by a trucker en route to Chicago. Claire doubled over laughing. When asked why she said “Hog Town.”


10 By noon she was on the University of Chicago campus. Some Fine Arts students gave her lunch. By supper she had a place to stay.


11 A well heeled gal from Maine had a place off campus. That night Claire cleaned, did laundry, and politely rebuffed the girl’s advances.


12 Claire wove tales her roommate loved to hear. There are no end of lesbians hiding in Hutterite closets, no end of groping in the barns.


13 In fact most girls back home were as boy crazy as Claire was. Although Claire loved the mind games most, wrapping boys around her finger.


14 A propensity that would serve her well when she sat in on an English class, and met the dashing Daniel Bennett.


15 Claire asked tons of questions on Orwell. The class was 18th century English lit. “Talk to Henry,” Bennett said. “He’s our Orwell guy.”


16 His rebuffs were an incredible turn on to Claire. She left the class determined to climb this Everest, and win this brilliant man.


17 She spent the night reading Alexander Pope. The next day she quoted chunks of THE RAPE OF THE LOCK to the professor from memory.


18 “How long you been reading Pope?” asked Bennett. She started to lie. “Yesterday,” Bennett said. “Don’t you find the language difficult?”


19 Claire, who had swaths of the King James Bible locked in her head, just shrugged. “Not really.”


20 Bennett arranged for her to article his course. Within a month she moved into the farmhouse where the professor would blow out his brains.


My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:

Tweet Thirteen


Today’s Tale in Twenty Tweets features the return of Detective Sonia Palette. You can read her debut story here:



1 The farmhouse was bathed in rotating red and blue lights from the four police cars, under a low fat moon. “Too moody,” Kine said.


2 Detective Sonia Palette looked to her partner as he killed the engine of their unmarked Crown Victoria. “I thought you liked moody.”


3 The stocky redhead let out a snort. “In a film noir yeah. With Mitchum or Powell. Love it. But I’m not an ‘in the mood’ kinda guy.”


4 Sonia chuckled. “More of a voyeur huh?” “Always,” said Kine. “And forever.”


5 The detectives got out into the cool June night and made their way up the walkway of an unkempt yard, mowed perhaps once that season.


6 The night air was sweet, with a hint of lilac. Crickets gave a counterpoint to the low chatter from police radios. The house had a veranda with a swing bench. A female officer sat there with a crying young woman, a pretty and slight blond.


7 The detectives made their way up the steps. They exchanged a glance. Sonia nodded to the open doorway. They went inside.


8 “We’ll get her on the flip side,” Sonia said. “Right,” muttered Kine. All was dark within, save for a few roaming flashlights.


9 Sonia retrieved her flashlight from a pocket of her tweed blazer as one of the boys in blue came down the hall toward them.


10 “The power?” asked Kine. “Cut,” the shadow said, from above his light. “With an axe. Same with the land line.”


11 “Run that,” Sonia said, as she started past him. “I want to know if that’s been done anywhere else.”


12 To their right the hall opened on a big living room with a grand piano at its center. Books were everywhere, many of them open.


13 “A cut above our usual fare,” Kine said. Sonia nodded. “It is refreshing.” “This way,” the other cop said.


14 The detectives followed down the hall, through the kitchen and into the dining room, which had been converted into a study.


15 Professor Daniel Bennett lay on the hardwood floor before a big oak desk, half out of his knocked over captain’s chair. Blood was everywhere.


16 The .45 used to blow out his brains was on the floor between his legs. “Registered?” Asked Sonia. “Yeah it’s his,” the cop said.


17 On the desk, curiously, was only an iPad. All else, computer, paper and books, had been placed neatly on the floor.


18 They gathered around as their escort tapped the iPad with a gloved hand. The screen lit up, revealing Bennett’s Twitter account.


19 The professor hadn’t spent much time in the twitterverse. The last tweet sent, one hour before, had only been his thirteenth.


20 It read: ‘The people love the darkness, the epitaph of man. We only like the moonlight in which our idols stand.’ TO BE CONTINUED

My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:



1 I went to feed the fish. Pilot wasn’t hungry. Our big bully goldfish was floating at the top of the tank. And not on purpose.


2 At the pet shop Georgia said he was a feeder fish, which is eaten by pretty much everything. But she liked him enough to take him home.


3 Pilot grew like a weed, and turned out to be a bully. He had a thing for another fish, our white skinned Commander.


4 Pilot would chase Commander, bite at him, pin him to the side of the tank.


5 This put Pilot in my bad books for a while. I hate bullies. I was the scrawniest little runt in every class in school. So I knew them well.


6 Still I found it hard to flush Pilot down the toilet. It took me a little while to figure out why.


7 I mentioned he was a big fish. That meant he had a big face, and big eyes. That’s what got me.


8 When I dropped him in the toilet he was left staring straight up at me, with those lifeless but plaintive eyes.


9 ‘How can you do this to me?’ those eyes seemed to say. He was so big I thought he might not flush. But he did.


10 It was a nihilistic moment. I was left contemplating the fact that a great flush awaits us all.


11 The ceramic bowl didn’t help either. It made me think of the MRI machine my brother couldn’t fit into.


12 My brother Edward, and my only sibling, was recently diagnosed with bowel cancer. An MRI was ordered.


13 My brother is very heavy and also has a failing liver, which is causing massive fluid retention.


14 So Edward was poked and prodded and prepped, by all sorts of people with degrees longer than my arms.


15 But not one of them clued in. Until they took him to the machine and realized that there was no way he was going to fit.


16 They all stood around, perplexed by this. “Huh,” someone said.


17 I mulled this over on the way to work, as I drove through a squall of rain. I asked Siri, my iPhone assistant, about current conditions.


18 She told me it was partly cloudy. “It’s raining!” I told Siri, as cats and dogs cleverly disguised as water pounded down.


19 “I don’t believe it’s raining,” Siri said. “I don’t believe a flush awaits us all,” I replied.


20 Escapism. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.



My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:


1 If my life were a screenplay a scene at the heart of it would be the day Georgia took my 1941 Royal typewriter home.


2 It began on a city street corner, with my wife pausing as she passed the shop window of a pharmacy. rusty royal

3 She peered in and saw the old typewriter on display. It called out to her in an old man’s smokey Bronx accent.


4 “Hey doll. Ain’t your guy a writer?”


5 By an astonishing coincidence that guy was a writer. The insanity writer. A lunatic who wrote 24 3-Day novels in a year, live online.


6 But by the time Georgia had that surreal moment on a street corner that guy was a blocked creative. Shopping lists were hard to write.


7 I wrote a fable in the wake of my marathon. THE MAN MADE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER. You can read it here:


8 Something broke in me when I finished it. Something snapped at the bottom of my soul. A little thing called hope.


9 Two years passed. In which I didn’t kill myself. Then came that perfect Fall day when my wife returned from the city.


10 I was out for a drive and we met on the highway. We embraced and took Duchess, our Pyr/Wolfhound cross, for a walk on a grid road.


11 The fat harvest sun settled on the horizon like ice cream on the cone of the Earth as we walked hand in hand toward it.

priarie sun

12 There was a scary moment. A kid whipped by on an ATV. Duchess lost her poop and gave chase, back toward the highway.


13 We trumped her primal instinct with the best offer we could come up with. “CAR RIDE!” we cried. “CAR RIDE!”


14 It worked. She gave up the chase and was wagging her tail like mad by the rear passenger side door when we reached her.


15 It was as though she was saying, “There’s something in here Daddy. Something just for you!”


16 Georgia opened the door. Duchess hopped in and continued her happy wagfest dance on the back seat, as Georgia fished out her prize.


17 I tried to hide my disappointment on seeing the 75 year old clunker. I knew there was a surprise see, and I’d been hoping for an iPad.


18 But once I started using it I was a goner. Gone baby gone. ‘I’m alive again!’ I tweeted. *Lightning strike, maniacal laughter*


19 My 1941 Royal was a genie in a bottle, and a monkey’s paw too. And did I mention it speaks in a Bronx accent? It does!


20 It started its life with a sports beat writer for the Yankees. It told me that one night, as I pecked away like mad.




My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:



1 There’s an old school circus in town. A big top with clowns and callers and fire breathers and acrobats. I’ll check it out tonight.


2 It’s appropriate that it show up now. Just this week I’ve begun a kind of high wire act. One without a net.


3 Oh you might not think so. You may even mock me. But it’s true. I’ve started writing without a net.


4 Until now I always had a pencil on hand as I pounded out my Tales in 20 Tweets on my trusty 1941 Royal. 


5 Then a voice piped up as I pecked away. I hear them all the time. I am the insanity writer after all. But what it said surprised me.


6 ‘Leave the pencil off the table.’ I blinked at this, and looked at my barenreiter urtext, which never hurt anybody.


7 But I obeyed. I put the pencil away, returned to the table, and started typing like the insanity writer I am.


8 And something wondrous happened. My typing speed tripled. Anyway. I pounded away all lickety split and tickety boo to parts unknown. And beyond.


9 I had been editing with that pencil as I typed. Fixing typos. It seemed innocent enough. But it wasn’t. It was hindering the process.


10 Wondrous things came as I pecked away with the refined sense of direction common to all decapitated chickens. There was new life and energy.


11 And typos! Lots more typos! Ones I started playing with as soon as I saw them on the page.


12 Like this one – ‘I might break this thing at this speed. I’m parsing at the subatamish level.’


13 And it hit me. A new Protestant splinter group. Forget about Breaking Amish. Meet the Subatamish. 


14 A sect like no other, the Subatamish. Littler than Lilliputians, and the wee Whos in Whoville.


15 So small that they will cause a religious inspired thermonuclear detonation. Their next fight will split the atom. 


16 ‘I’m working on a think,’ I typed, when I meant to say thing. And that did it. A Think started chasing me around the kitchen.


17 It was a floating brain type thingy. It shot me with lightning bolts that made images from the planet Positon erupt in my head.


18 Thinks go through the Cosmos and help artists overcome their blocks. ‘Just think anything,’ they say. ‘And write it down or draw it.’


19 Then there was the typo that split my gut, and left me bleeding out all over the place as I died laughing.


20 ‘Typos me damned.’



My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. Click the link to find it:


In case you’re looking for my latest – My Tales in 20 Tweets have been moved to Saturdays at 1230 PM Eastern. Entries are posted live on Twitter then here on my site.

If you’d like a fix in the meantime why not check out my 3 part T20T THE PLUNGE:


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


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Don's the madman who wrote 24 3-Day novels in one year, all live online. His madness continues with free audio books (in the audio menu) and the all new TALES IN TWENTY #TWEETS (#T20T). If you enjoy the content please consider a donation, to help the insanity continue unabated!


An excerpt from my story THE REDEMPTION OF WILBUR BLAKE was read on the CBC national radio program AS IT HAPPENS, which is also heard across the States on NPR. Part One follows. The rest of the story, and other audio books, can be found by clicking on the audio menu above my blogs. Enjoy:



You can read my horror novel Cambrian absolutely free on Scribd, the Netflix of books. But you don't need a Scribd subscription to read it. Click on the cover for a direct link to Cambrian.