Whales and dolphins playing together

I started the morning with a very cute cat video here, and went on to watch the following extraordinary video clip :

It’s very short, but raises all sorts of questions, such as, if the two biggest water based mammals can play with each other then what sort of communication must take place to allow that to happen?

Dolphin: Hi whale, can I use your nose as a slippery slide?

Whale: Sure little guy, go ahead. I’ll be gentle.

Dolphin: Wheeeeeeee!

And that leads to the question – if all this is happening out in the wild, how much more have we missed? And how much more do we need to learn about our neighbours on this lovely planet?

Good morning,


‘Real’ Virtual Reality one step closer

As the pace of writing Innerscape accelerates, I’m finding echoes all over the place, and today was no exception. I found the following excerpt in a Venturebeat article – one of my favourite tech news sources :

“The VR experience is set in the Lord of the Rings universe, with viewers taking on the role of a hobbit thief. It began in a massive treasure chamber, one so large that I had to crane my neck fully to see it all. Dimly lit piles of coins shimmered under my feet. I could see even dimmer caves in the distance, set off by massive statues on either side. I had to physically turn around to take it all in.

Some of the coin piles began to move, with gold sliding down toward my virtual feet. Smaug, an enormous dragon, pushed his face out of a large pile and began to swim around the coins, Scrooge McDuck style. He began to speak in a thunderous voice, claiming that he could smell a thief among his treasures. Smaug circled me, forcing me to turn around in circles to keep track of his motion. His movements and voice became increasingly aggressive — so much so that I caught myself stepping back as he moved nearby….”

You can find the complete article at the following link, including a great photo of Smaug :


[Translator’s note : Nvidia make graphic chips, Weta created Gollum et al., for the Lord of the Rings, and I assume Oculus created the VR device used in the virtual reality experience.]

I’m definitely not the first to imagine a virtual reality world, but at this rate I may become the first writer to publish a VR story just as virtual reality morphs from science fiction wish list to real reality.

Ouch. I think I twisted my brain with that last sentence. Anyway, enjoy the article while I get back to Miira and co. :)


Soft selling in the digital age

soft sell pic

Photo by K.S. Brooks

If you get the chance, please hop over to Indies Unlimited to read my article on ‘soft’ selling in the digital age.

My thoughts on this stem from how I like to be treated as a reader, so I’d be really interested in knowing how other readers [and writers!] feel about it.

You can find the link here.



I’ve turned comments off so please go to Indies Unlimited to join the discussion!

Melbourne, multi-culturalism and Ecca Vandal

My post this Sunday was requested by the Offspring. She has just discovered Ecca Vandal and asked me to promote this young, Melbourne artist.

I was a little leery at first – I’ve never been able to ‘sell’ anything I didn’t believe in myself. However after watching this video clip, I’m well and truly a fan. This girl reminds me of Gwen Stephanie before she became mainstream.

Brash, raw and throwing off sparks of vitality, I give you Ecca Vandal and the White Flag:

And now, if you’re still with me, a little background on Ecca Vandal. Radio station Triple J takes the credit for discovering her, and this is what they say about her background:

“South African born with Sri Lankan Heritage, Ecca Vandal’s parents left South Africa after Apartheid in the late 80s, her parents making the decision to find a stable environment in which to educate their daughters.”

[So familiar this; my parents made the same decision in 1957.]

Apparently the family settled in Melbourne, becoming part of the multi-cultural soup that makes Melbourne such a great place to live. We have  some of the best food in Australia, a vibrant cultural life – thanks to all those who make their home here – and now we have Ecca.

It feels good to be a Melbournite. :)

p.s. No Sydney-siders were harmed in the making of this post.


Leonard Nimoy – Live Long and Prosper – 1931 to 2015

More than any rockstar or rockband of the 60’s, this man and his alter-ego – Mr Spock – epitomized my teenage years. Would I be writing sci-fi now if not for him?

Back in those days, Star Trek was ground-breaking because it let you see concepts hitherto restricted to books, and your imagination. And pictures pack a punch.

Thank you, Leonard Nimoy. You will be remembered.


leonard Nimoy last tweet

The nothing box …or the way men think?

Okay, I have no idea if the guy in this video is the funniest ‘lecturer’ in the world, or a comedian with a genuine message, but he is hilariously funny!

A huge vote of thanks to David Prosser for sending me this video clip. David is either a man with a great sense of humour, or utterly evil. :D

Happy Friday,


To comma or not to comma?

I’ve just been editing some work I set for my English student, and it suddenly hit me – I’d been using American English instead of Australian English. :(

Now you may think there’s no difference between the two but, I’m here to tell you, there is! And the previous sentence illustrates some of the differences.

In Australian English you only put a comma before a conjunction if it joins two, distinct clauses, both of which must be able to stand on their own as complete sentences. By definition, a complete sentence contains at least one subject and one verb.

Now let’s have a look at the following sentence – ‘She ran up the stairs, and then she went to bed.’

‘She ran up the stairs’ is a complete sentence because it has a subject [she] and a verb [ran].

The second half of the sentence is also a complete sentence because ‘she went to bed’ has a subject [she] and a verb [went].

Contrast this with ‘She ran up the stairs and went to bed.’

‘She ran up the stairs’ is a complete sentence but ‘went to bed’ is not. The subject ‘she’ may be implied but that is not enough to make ‘went to bed’ a complete sentence in its own right, hence no comma before the ‘and’.

Most sentences, however, are not simple. Going back to my initial sentence – ‘Now you may think there’s no difference between the two but, I’m here to tell you, there is!’ the main part of the sentence boils down to ‘you may think there is no difference between the two but there is!’ As you can see, ‘there is’ is not a complete sentence, so the conjunction does not have a comma in front of it.

Gah, even now I’m not sure that last paragraph is correct, despite my best efforts. And that illustrates how confusing and tricky the Australian English use of commas can be.

Aussies! A little help would be appreciated in comments!

I will continue to use Australian English commas with my Australian English student, but I will be using American English commas for my published work.

Part of the reason for that is expediency – I publish mostly to the US market. The other part, however, is that I actually find the American system more intuitive. It allows me to recreate the pauses a reader would take if, say, they were reading aloud, and I like that visceral connection between me and them.

Unfortunately, I recognize that accepting American commas whilst retaining Australia spelling is a contradiction, and probably hypocritical. :( God help my poor, addled brain. :(



Survey about Reading Habits (How do YOU Read?)


I just took this survey and I was [pleasantly] surprised by the results. It’s all about us, and our reading habits. Enjoy. :)

Originally posted on chrismcmullen:

Image from Shutterstock Image from Shutterstock


How do you prefer to read books?

How often do you read?

Authors, would you like to know your readers’ habits?

Readers, would you please participate in a quick survey?

I’ll leave the survey up indefinitely, so anyone who finds it can take it. Just look at the top of my blog anytime you wish to find it (look for the Surveys button).

You’ll see the results after you answer each question. Select the best answer.

Please take the survey.

And tell your friends.

And spread the word.

Authors everywhere will LOVE you for it. :-)

After you vote, you can even share a specific question with Facebook and Twitter. Or you can share the post itself (with all questions included).

Copyright © 2015 Chris McMullen

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How to grow a forest – TED

The following video details how an Indian industrial engineer, Shubhendu Sharma, took the work of Akira Miyawaki on growing small-scale, self-sustaining forests, and expanded it to work like a ‘production line’. However it’s his monetization of the process that’s interesting because if other companies realise that re-forestation is profitable, it could start a chain reaction across the world, and that can only be good.

Watch the video and see what you think.

You can also find a full, written article about the process here.

An inconvenient truth about our bees


I met Michelle [online] last year after the fire we had in Warrandyte. Today I visited her site and found this amazing article on bees, beekeeping, and the importance of bees in our lives. Well worth a read!

Originally posted on Michelle Pini:


Sticky Business

Published in Warrandyte Diary

I am standing as far away as it is possible to be while still being able to use the zoom on my camera. I ask beekeeper David Hopday if it is a safe enough distance.

“You should be right … as long as you can run,” he laughs.

After sticking an ungloved hand into a hive full of bees and around which bees are swarming (rather menacingly, I think), David decides I need a closer look. We are not wearing facial protection, but he picks up one of the bee-covered boards from the colony, walks up to me and indicating the part that is oozing with honey, says, “Stick your finger in there.”

“No, thank you,” I manage.

“Go on, it’s beautiful – nectar of the Gods,” he urges.

I hold my ground – impressed that I have gone this far without stimulating those…

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