Interview with Christine Ray: Writer, Blogger, Poet, and Barista from the Go Dog Go Cafe #amwriting #interview #nonfiction


Welcome to another Tuesday edition of my interviews series. Today I have another new interview for you, a talented writer, poet and a Go Do Go Cafe  Barista, Christine Ray. 

I hope you love her blog I have found it fascinating. You can check out some of Christine’s wonderful writing on the topics of Poetry, Erotica, Spoken Word,  and for you newbies out there, B & R Advice for New Bloggers.

Before we go any further, I need to introduce Christine’s blog as a whole, it’s called: Brave and Reckless.


Christine Ray
Credit: Christine Ray

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself, Christine? 

My name is Christine Ray and I’m from Havertown, Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia). I blog at Brave and Reckless. I feel as if sometimes I should call myself the ‘accidental blogger!’ I came to the WordPress blog site to do one piece of writing called: What Every Woman Knows. The piece is based on rape culture, sexual harassment, and sexual trauma and is, sadly, more relevant now more than ever.

Writing that one post literally changed my whole life. I rediscovered that I loved writing. I also love to write poetry and I’m thrilled to be part of an active writing community. My blogging goals include continuing to grow and strengthen Secret First Draft, the Go Dog Go Café and Blood Into Ink, all projects that are very near and dear to my heart.


2. Do You Have Any Particular Blogging Goals or Things You Want to Accomplish? 

My first goal is to simply improve my writing skills maintain writing as a daily habit.  When I started blogging, the deal I made with myself was simply to write 10 minutes a day. I had the option of writing a new piece from scratch, working on an ongoing project, or editing a piece of writing.

The idea was that I develop discipline and prioritize my writing. I am involved with a lot of other collaborative blogs. And sometimes my own personal writing keeps moving further down the priority list than it should be moving.

Additionally, I’m registered for a course about writing child and young adult literature in the Fall that I’m really excited about.  The thought of a low-residency program to earn a Masters in Fine Arts has crossed my mind a time or two (or maybe ten!!).


“My first goal is to simply improve my writing skills maintain writing as a daily habit.  When I started blogging, the deal I made with myself was simply to write 10 minutes a day. I had the option of writing a new piece from scratch, working on an ongoing project, or editing a piece of writing.” – Christine Ray


3. When Did You Begin Writing or Blogging and Why? What Does Writing Mean to You? 

I honestly can’t remember how old I was when I began writing but I was definitely scrawling short stories into dog-eared notebooks in middle school. As well, I started writing poetry as a teenager.  I was also the editor of my high school newspaper and my senior yearbook.

Nevertheless, I have taken long breaks from writing when life has become busy but it has always been something I come back to when I’m in transition. I turned fifty-years-old in 2016 which was a major life reassessment period for me. Writing became a primary method for me to work through my feelings. 

Finding my voice again as a writer has been really powerful, though to be honest, I think other people took me seriously as a writer long before I did.  There were most definitely several months where I transitioned from when I thought about myself as a middle-aged woman (who happened to write), to identifying myself as a writer and a poet, being who I am today.

Writing has become, and honest, always has been an essential part of my identity. As well, began my blog: Brave and Reckless on October 8, 2016.


4. Where do you Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Continue Writing? Why is it Significant for you to Continue Writing and Blogging? 

I find inspiration everywhere. Music is a big part of my writing process and song lyrics frequently inspire my work but I’ve also been inspired by movies (Paterson is amazing); TV (you’d be amazed how much poetry there is in American Gods); beer menus, conversations with other people, and currently, a collaboration with Aurora Phoenix inspires and motivates me. The collaboration began in the comments section in one of my blog posts.

This sounds silly when I say it out loud, but when I started this particular blog in October, I had no idea that I had anything to say! The vast majority of my writing is inspired by exactly what is going on in my emotional life, in the moment. Sometimes I approach writing about those things obliquely, but often what you see is a direct reflection of my experiences during the day.

One of the most transformative experiences of blogging for me was realizing my writing resonates with other people. Every time someone writes to me and tells me that I captured exactly what they were feeling, but couldn’t articulate it, is an incentive for me to keep up with my writing.  

Every time someone writes to thank me for writing openly about depression, suicide, PTSD, or trauma, it is incentive to keep writing.  Feeling like I can still make a positive impact keeps me writing and blogging. I feel that I can make a positive impact on other people by continuing to write and blog because it helps other people, not only myself. 


“Every time someone writes to thank me for writing openly about depression, suicide, PTSD, or trauma, it is incentive to keep writing.  Feeling like I can still make a positive impact keeps me writing and blogging. I feel that I can make a positive impact on other people by continuing to write and blog because it helps other people, not only myself.” – Christine Ray 


Rawpixel.com UnSplash
Credit: Rawpixel.com via UnSplash

5. Do you have any Particular Writing or Blogging Habits? What do you Enjoy Most About Writing? Is there a Time of Day you Prefer to Write?

I have a busy life and have discovered that the only way to fit writing and blogging into my life is to awake at 4:00 a.m. From 4:00 a.m to 6: 00 a.m. I write, I answer blog related comments and emails, I record ‘Spoken Word’ versions of my writing, and see to editorial duties.

As well, I have been known to write whole pieces in the Google Docs app on my phone during my commute on the bus or train. I also eat lunch at my desk, at work, and try to catch up on reading other people’s blogs.  At times, I’m still awake at 10:00 p.m. doing blog related activities and tending to my own writing. I must admit that I’m tired right now. However,  I expect things to calm down a bit over the upcoming summer months.


6. Can you Tell us About your Most Current Writing Projects on your Blog or Outside of it? 

In addition to writing and publishing daily, I’ve been running various writing challenges on my blog.  This week I challenged readers to write about a life experience using ten objects and will be publishing my favorites on my ‘Brave and Reckless’ blog. I’ve already committed to two Writing Prompt Challenges and have my third occurring now using the prompt: “I Am More Than Breath and Bones.”

I do publish some of my work, the pieces I call “the softer side of Christine”—on Poetry Corner. I’m also happily involved as a Barista at the Go Dog Go Café.  It’s been fun to put the site together and to work with a  lovely cadre of writers, some of whom I’ve met and some of whom are new to me. The Cafe has a wonderful community vibe and brings out the best in writers.

My most recent project was launching Blood Into Ink  (with a group of writers from WordPress and off of it).’Blood Into Ink’ has a safe and respectful environment for stories of survival to be told. It gives a home for stories from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. The focus of the blog is to discover our ‘warrior voices’ by telling our truths. 

It is open to men and women and already features some pretty fierce writing.  I am proud of this project and hope that it encourages many writers to tell their stories and aids them in receiving the support and respect they deserve for their stories of survival and dealing with them after the fact.

Also, I’m working on a project called Whisper and the Roar, a feminist literary collective site. I am still an author for Whisper and the Roar. All of the writers on this site are feminist but the content is not overtly feminist. I piece I wrote for this particular site is called “Ode to a Black Eye.” Such as many of my pieces, this post is autobiographical (my childhood friend Wendy had the black eye and we finally talked about the incident when we reconnected on Facebook.


Blood Into Ink’ has a safe and respectful environment for stories of survival to be told. It gives a home for stories from those who have lived through sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma. The focus of the blog is to discover our ‘warrior voices’ by telling our truths.” – Christine Ray


7. Have you Published any Writing or Poetry outside of your Blog? If not do you plan to in the Future? 

I recently had a couple of pieces of poetry published in Felan Magazine which has lit a fire under me to publish more writing into print. Felan centers its issues around a particular feeling so it was easy to pull my best pieces about Anger (Issue 10) and Love (Issue 11). 


8. Can you Briefly Describe to us Your Writing Process? Are there Certain Genres of Writing and Reading You Prefer? 

The vast majority of my writing happens on my PC in the early morning hours with music playing in the background. Some of my work happens on my phone on the train.  Some it is sprawled into notebooks until I have time to type it up. I’ve been known to write a poem or two during long and dull meetings at work (hopefully none of my co-workers are reading this).

Poetry is definitely my primary form of written expression but I do write some prose, some short fiction, and essays. As a reader, I tend to joke that I will read the back of a cereal box if nothing else is handy! I’m obsessed with Jane Austen (I’ve got a Jane Austen quote as a tattoo) and I’ve read the Harry Potter series a ridiculous amount of times.  I love psychological British mysteries,  Young Adult literature, as well as, science fiction, and fantasy. All in all, I’m a serious book nerd!


“Poetry is definitely my primary form of written expression but I do write some prose, some short fiction, and essays. As a reader, I tend to joke that I will read the back of a cereal box if nothing else is handy!” – Christine Ray


Nicole Jones UnSplash
Credit: Nicole Jones via UnSplash

9. Do you have any Wisdom for Other Bloggers and Writers?

Make writing a daily habit even if you can only dedicate ten minutes a day. Write what you like to read! Find writers whose work you like and follow them too! Check out those who follow your blog—you may like their blog too!

Also, don’t obsess about numbers. Fifteen extremely engaged followers are more rewarding than two-hundred disengaged writers. Be brave and leave thoughtful comments on other people’s writing. I have picked up a lot of followers this way. Most vitally, I have made excellent friends by commenting on the writing/blogs of other people. 

In addition, I recommend subscribing and responding to the Daily Post. I want everyone who writes and/or blog to know that their voice matters and their truths matter too. Don’t worry about your audience, worry about what you need to say.

There are twelve million people on WordPress—your people (your followers) are out there. You may need to look for them, but there is someone out there who wants to read what you have to say.


10. Is there Anything Else you Want to Share, something you think is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself? 

One crazy thing that happened to me in May is that one of my pieces was chosen for featuring as WordPress Discover blog called: Brave and Reckless Advice for New Bloggers – Part One.  I went from 164 views on May 1st to 2,439 views on May 2nd. It was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time!

Things have calmed down a little but I spent three days replying to all the comments I received! I still don’t know how the WordPress editors found me or that piece. However, I try to use my newfound readership for good and give lots of other really good writers exposure on Brave and Reckless (I feel like I should be quoting Spiderman or something here)!


“Make writing a daily habit even if you can only dedicate ten minutes a day. Write what you like to read! Find writers whose work you like and follow them too! Check out those who follow your blog—you may like their blog too!” – Christine Ray


11. For fun, do you Have Any Especially Favorite Bloggers that you Love to Follow? 

There are so many blogs that I love! My big writing crushes are:

  • The Feathered Sleep — Candice Louisa Daquin’s writing is elegant, exquisite, and emotionally resonant.
  • A Journal for Damned Lovers — Nicholas is gritty and dark and never glamorizes life, love or himself.  He takes you on journeys into the human psyche that you didn’t even know you wanted to go one. He appeals to my darkness and I want to grow up and write like SK someday!
  • The Lithium Chronicles –Nicole Lyons and the other poets she highlights on her site are badass warriors! There is an electricity to Nicole’s work, a buzz that gets under my skin, and into my blood. Some of her writing is similar to what could be pulled from own diaries.
  • Additionally, all of the writers at the collectives I work with are amazing and deserving of a read.

12. Can You Please Share with us a few of Your Favorite Pieces from your Blogging? 

Poet’s Love Song

by

Christine Ray

*****

Christine Ray = MM photo
Credit: From Christine’s Ray’s Blog ‘Brave and Reckless” for this post.

*****

I see you

Yes, you poet

You who lives

Behind the misty veil

Dwelling in the border

Between this world

And a hundred other

Shadow worlds

*****

see you

*****

see those ink-stained

Fingers

That hold your pen

Like a lover

That fly across the keyboard

In a torrent

Before stopping, hesitating

Waiting

For the flow of words to resume

*****

see the permanent rings

Countless cups of coffee

Have left on your writing table

The chip in your favorite mug

I see the frayed fabric

On your cuffs

Of your favorite writing shirt

The fabric worn thin at your elbows

*****

see those mesmerizing eyes

That seem to simultaneously

Be looking through me

Straight into my soul

While studying the cosmos

And gazing inward

All at the same time

see the contradictions you are

Your eyes are haunting

Full of knowing

Full of pain

Full of longing

*****

see the dark smudges

Under your otherworldly eyes

Reminders that poets

Are night dwellers

Insomniacs

Who haunt the still hours

Who understand the depth

The texture of darkness

Who can capture the qualities

The acoustics of silence

*****

see the way

That words spill out of

Your sensuous mouth

Like pearls, like diamonds

Beautiful treasures

Embedded with your tears

Your sweat, your blood

*****

Yes poet

see you

You who makes me fall

In love with language

Over and over

Whose words

Stab me in the heart

Punch me in the gut

Jangle my nerves

Bathe me in your radiance

Soothe my weary soul

Take me on a journey

I didn’t even know

I wanted to go on

*****

And you are beautiful

*****

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved



Thank you so much to Christine Ray for being so detailed and open sharing her writing and poetry with us on my blog and on the Go Do Go Cafe. If you would like to be featured as a writer, blogger, or person who is blogging/writing about a cause please reach out to me through my contact page. Next week`s interview will be a ‘Rewind Interview,’ a blogger I’ve interviewed in the past.


©Mandibelle16. (2017). All Rights Reserved.

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Interview With Christopher Leo Couch


Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to share with you an interview on a wonderful writer, teacher, and blogger this first week of July. His name is Christopher Leo Couch of Clcouch123. Please check-out his blog, he’s a fascinating, kind, and learned writer.


Christopher Leo Couch
Christoper Leo Couch
  1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.

My name is Christopher Leo Couch. Christopher because my mother liked the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Leo because it’s my father’s first name and his father’s and so on back. My last name is Couch because centuries ago, members of my clan made cushions for medieval furniture, furniture otherwise made of only hard stone and brick.

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky; much of my family is from and in the Southern USA.  My immediate family moved to Pittsburgh when I was young, then to Cincinnati. I moved back to Pennsylvania to work. I live in Mechanicsburg, a small town (borough) near Harrisburg (the state capital).

I grew up with four siblings, three brothers and my sister. I am the middle child. As such, I had to be an older child or a younger child, depending on the nature of the situation. The nature of the situation was rarely made clear to me. I never knew which child I was supposed to be and when. As a child, I had a busy imagination. I enjoyed stories and writing them. I made little worlds out of my train set and other toys such as models of spaceships or Lincoln Logs.


2. What Type of Profession Did You End Up Going Into?

I went into teaching, which became the substance of my work. I taught college while in college. Later, I taught my way through Graduate School and teaching paid the bills. I discovered I had great concerns for the accomplishments and growth of my students. In my initial studies and since, I developed a learner-centered approach to teaching that has evolved by experience and further training.

As an educator, I’ve worked in schools and churches. I’ve worked with all ages of students. I find it appealing to teach a range of all ages. I enjoy working  with babies, children, youth, and adults. I have degrees in Communications, and English, and I’ve studied religion. I’ve also, taught both public speaking and writing.

I am Christian though probably a lousy evangelist. I enjoy meeting those from other religious traditions and learning about their faith. I spend time with agnostics and atheists as well. I can articulate my faith well and I’m a devotee of the apologist C. S. Lewis; however, I believe if we’re all going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.


” . . .I believe if we’re going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.” – Christopher Leo Couch


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?

About a year ago, I had heart surgery. My recovery was slow and I couldn’t do much of anything. One activity I could do was write, so journaling became a daily practice. My spiritual director (once) had recommended I keep a blog. Why he suggested this, I’m not sure. I had already found WordPress, but I began to write on my blog more often after his suggestion. I enrolled in Blogging University (the WordPress offered courses). I also participated in a WordPress poetry writing class. I built a basic blog, giving myself enough options so that I could write blog posts, read the blog posts of others, and respond to other WordPress blogger’s comments.

I haven’t done much in a sophisticated fashion with my blog concerning graphics and other technical aspects, but I’ve been posting and corresponding daily for several months now and am learning as I go.


4. What Does Writing Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write, I think. Poetry is the way I meet the world. Maybe someone else somewhere, said this more profoundly, but for me this is how I can explain it. I write poetry to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise—a way to play with words—which is fine. I play that way. Usually, there’s more at work behind the poetry, even in the playful parts. I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.


“Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write . . .I write poetry to to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise -a way to play with words . . . I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.” – Christopher Leo Couch.


5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration to Write? Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like to Write?

Many things inspire me to write such as current events, a moment of beauty, and the concerns of myself and other people. I’m inspired to write when words come to mind or heart which I cannot let go of.

Currently, I most like to write in the early evening and revise in the afternoon the next day. I often enjoy writing first thing in the morning, when my mind is new and I encounter the world in an open way (or as open as the day and I are going to get).


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Poetry Projects? Any Hopeful Projects You Are Working On?

I’m working on composing a series of psalms. I’m not the first person to express psalms in a new way. I’m not sure how I began working on this project. A psalm, simply put, is a song to God. Perhaps, I was writing out a prayer and thought there might be something lyrical about it. At any rate, I continue working on writing a series if psalms.

It’s also been a dream of mine to study and train for an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve applied to various programs, though have not worked out a method to afford taking courses in a Creative Writing Program, which is why it’s a dream. But I do have an active, waking dream to lead a creative writing class.

While recovering from my surgery (I must have had more time than I recall), I drafted  a verse novel for a young-adult audience. I have great fondness for the genre and have been delighted to teach it, study it, and simply read it. I’ve written works, often in dramatic voice, for groups and special events; I’d be glad to continue writing works such as this.

I’d love to publish my work, of course. I have mentioned in my blog a dream of mine, to have a collection of my poems published in hardback form. I want my poetry to be a book as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal—or divine—aspects of earth.


“I want my poetry to be a book just as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal — or divine — aspects of earth.” – Christopher Leo Couch


7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing in the Future?

I published numerous works while in graduate school and in my scholarly life. Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.

For the last church in which I worked, I wrote a devotional series and for a Lenten observance. I wrote The Way of the Cross—a kind of liturgical writing which has been composed over centuries. If you go to the The Trinity Camp Hill Website, you’ll find my Way of the Cross and the entire experience rendered on line.


8. Can You Briefly Describe the Process You Went Through to Publish or Are Going Through to Have Your Writing Published?

I imagine if I seriously wanted to publish widely, I would need to have a literary agent, if not an advanced (terminal) degree. What I often do, is send my writing to a group which might be interested in printing it. Sometimes I’ve been commissioned to write certain pieces. Sometimes sending your writing to interested parties works and sometimes it doesn’t.

On a side note, I’ve heard there maybe a new planet discovered in our solar system. If so, it’s going to need a name. I posted a poem about my choice of Minerva (Roman god of wisdom), which many of you (thank you) like as well. I also sent my suggestion to NASA. Maybe, they will like my name choice as well?


“Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.” – Christopher Leo Couch


9. What is Your Writing Process Like?

I’ve described something of my writing process above; I write. It’s not usually so hard, because I know I’ll write stuff that I won’t keep. But I’m still writing. The computer is especially (truly, really) helpful with my writing. I can draft, move things around, and create new saved versions and files. It’s so easy now with the a computer. Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).

I usually write in response to something—even if it’s only in wondering why or how. Sometimes, I write something and then put it away. (Again, wonderful computer)  I have many pieces of writing saved and stored on my computer (without proper back-up, I’m sure). At times, writing is difficult, because I am writing about something difficult. The recent death of my close friend is hard to write about. Sometimes writing is more straightforward and other times, writing is like playing. The act of writing is a chore (physically speaking) but I’m fine with it’s physical demands.


10. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?

I read poetry, young-adult literature, and regular mysteries. Sometimes I read varied genres for fun and sometimes for work. For work, I read about pedagogy and religion. My favorite mystery works are by Aaron Elkins who sometimes writes with his wife Charlotte Elkins. Charlotte also writes on her own. My sister and I share mystery titles and our reviews of the books we both read. But, young-adult literature crosses pleasure and work, as does poetry.


“Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).” – Christopher Leo Couch


11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

Write! Don’t wait. Write. Share. Get reader response and write more!

When sharing your writing before revising (and after, since writing is an organic process and not artificially linear), choose those whose opinions about your writing, you generally respect. These opinions do not have to be from folks who are writers.

If you would like to know how to increase your vocabulary when writing — read. You can read anything. I suggest reading writing you like. Rosema from the blog: A Reading Writer writes about wonderful books to read along with meaningful poetry. Please check-out her blog in the link above.


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?

I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for arranging this interview. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my work. I’d like to thank those with whom I interact with online, because your work invites response.Thank you! Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies.  Writing is a mystery—but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.


“Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery –but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.” – Christopher Leo Couch


  1. Can You Share With Us a Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite or Most Loved Pieces? 

The first poem is playfulGrandmama used two words in “Collecting Words,” which I especially like. I use these two-words here:

“Pie Outside Can’t Hide”

By Christopher Leo Couch

Crimp pie crust,

Not too hard, ‘cause,’

Dust to dust.

Enjoy the crimp,

With elf and imp.

Like will-o-the-wisp,

When fall is crisp.

We bake our wares,

To cool on stairs.

Steam sprite-rises,

No surprises.

Wafting dessert:

Magic food alert!


My second poem is more soberly reflective:

“Failing Night”

By Christopher Leo Couch

 Just after five,

I have not been asleep.

Pain shoots through,

My leg, a single line,

Of nerve.

As if a wire was pushed,

Through inside.

Then something threw,

A supernatural switch,

And a low current of too-

Warm electric sting,

Without cessation.

Courses through tired,

Muscle.

Having surrendered the,

Day’s labors into,

Aspiration’s night of,

Negligent awareness.

Barely keeping guard,

Letting go of awake,

To turn into dream.

In hope to re-knit and,

Repair stretched.

Measures in the body,

And the mind.

It’s a cycle that’s supposed,

To work.

Why then is pain,

Ruining what I’ve made?

Not fair.

I want to rest then rise,

With normal consciousness,

Beneath the skin.


More of Christopher’s poetry can be found on his blog here.

Thank you so much Christopher for doing this interview for me. I enjoyed learning about you, your past, and your future aspirations. I wish the best for you in life, completing your MFA in Creative Writing, your psalms, and a hardcover book of poetry.


Thanks for reading this bi-weekly interview series. I have another fantastic interview lined up in the next couple of weeks. If you wished to be interviewed on writing and/or blogging, please reach me on my contact page on the top of my blog.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.