The Odera Chronicles

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JR Handley Blog HeaderHey Space Cadets, how is everyone on this fine day?  I’m doing well, and wanted to bring you my news!  My former editor, Corey D Truax, and I have signed our next series with a small publishing house, Theogony Publishing.  This umbrella publishing house is a part of the larger and more dynamic Chris Kennedy Publishing.  Corey and I scoped him out together, in a totally non-stalker kind of way, and liked how he operated. He’s professional, and another veteran of America’s Armed Forces. I think Corey liked that he was a sailor too, but I forgive them both for their imperfections

So, what to say about The Odera Chronicles without giving too much away?  This story tells the tale of Alexis Monroe, one of the first female infantrymen in the US Army. Alexis was an only child, her dad was a Seabee and veteran of the wars in Mesopotamia. After her mother died, it was just the two of them, so she became the son he wanted. Alexis strove to please him and honed her inner tomboy. Shortly after she graduated college, females were being allowed to join the combat arms of the military. Alexis enlisted into the infantry.  Alexis did well at training, very well. When those scores were combined with her college degree, she was quickly advanced to the rank of sergeant. Despite how well she did, her fellow grunts always assumed she was promoted because she was female. When she graduated from training at the NCO Academy, she was given an out of the way assignment. Out of sight, out of mind, or so the Army thought. Her job was simple; guard a warehouse, don’t look inside.  Of course, she looked – and a grand adventure ensued.  To find out more, you will have to read the book.

As you all know, I will keep you up to date with our plans for the series, but for now, less really is more!  I really enjoyed working with Corey as he edited The Sleeping Legion series, so I think this collaboration will be a blast. I really hope that the fun we have translates onto the page. We both really want our readers to enjoy this little tale of galactic woe. So, if you’ve enjoyed the shenanigans over here in the Handley Trenches, then re-enlist on the insanity train!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

Story Prompts: Closets (#1)

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Hey, Space Cadets. I hope this fine Tuesday finds you well!  I’ve hit an impasse on Operation Breakout. Namely, managing this blog takes more of my time than I really have.  While I love the collaboration, writing stories needs to be my top priority. Soon, if I can’t find a solution, I might cut back to every other day posting.  Either way, for today, I wanted to try something different.  I’ll be doing a series of writing prompts, and today’s will use the image below as the starting point.  My goal is to improve my ability to write shorter works, and you get to be my lab rats!  I hope you enjoy the insanity that follows! Feedback is welcome. Negative, positive, grammatical, whatever you want to post. Ultimately, a writer grows by seeing their flaws and honing their craft.

 


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She opened the door to her storage closet and braced herself for the horror that would come.  Her normally ruddy complexion turned an ashen white as a hoarse voice whispered to her, imploringly.

“Just let me explain.”

It wasn’t how she expected to spend her Saturday morning, after a glorious Friday evening with her friends.  She’d met up with members of her Imperial Space Fleet Academy graduating class, to reminisce about old times.

With long deployments, spread across Imperial Space, she hadn’t seen several of them in years.  Many of them had exited the Navy, and entered the private sector.  Enjoying lucrative jobs in the Imperial City, which allowed them to meet with their classmates.

The rest, well their time in service meant most were ready for their own class on ships captaincy.  It was only their return to attend the Ship’s Captain Course, after so many good officers died in the insurrection that just ended, that brought them all together.

After so long apart, she’d just gotten through telling them how happy her marriage was.  Droning on about how they’d stood the test of time and were still together after all these years.  College sweethearts even.

What she didn’t expect was to go into the storage closet to find her husband joined in coitus with her best friend.  The fact that he was wearing her high school prom dress and ‘that woman’ was wearing a tux only added fuel to the rage that followed.  She knew she only had a few seconds to decide her next move.

Is the prison time worth killing them?  Would it be better to take a picture, humiliate them both?  What do I do?



 

Hope you all enjoyed this science fiction short, and I’ll try to do more of them in the future! Again, feedback is welcome. Heck, if I get an idea doing this that I like, I might just turn it into something more. If your feedback helps make that happen, you’ll get a mention in the acknowledgements. Or, I’ll make you a redshirt in the book and you can meet death with glory (in the story, of course).

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

 JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are images owned by JR Handley.

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Free Books!!!!

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Hello Space Cadets, how are you doing today?  I’m doing great, doing the punch list of my wife’s ‘Honey Do List,’ and working on Operation Breakout and various other things for boss man to help market The Legion Awakes and Fortress Beta City.  I wanted to finish Operation Breakout by Christmas Eve, but it clearly didn’t happen.  I’ve moved the deadline for myself to January 31, 2017 and hope that I won’t be cutting that one close.  I’ve also fallen in love with next series, which I’ll tentatively call The Odera Chronicles.  This series came out of the short story I wrote for the Roswell Anthology that I’ve talked about.  It’s currently with my editor, who is doing a quick look-through for me.  I know that prolific author Dean Wesley Smith teaches us that the world is waiting with baited breath for the release of the next big thing in military science fiction, the next big pulp author.  I hope my novels will fill that niche!  To tide you over, as a sort of appetizer to greatness, I wanted to tell you about an opportunity to help other science fiction authors. 

 

One of the up and coming small publishing houses, Space Dock, is seeking dedicated ARC readers.  An ARC is an advanced reader copy, and is given out by authors for reviews of their books.  These reviews are crucial for visibility, and writers live and die by them.  Good, bad or indifferent, just write the dang review!  Since Space Dock is out of the UK, they’d likely be sending out eBook copies, but for most of us that isn’t an issue.  If this sounds like something you’re interested in, click here.

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

 brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are personally owned by Space Dock Publications.

WRITERS ARE CRAZY PEOPLE

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Hello Space Cadets, today is another throwback post.  I think this story was posted way back when, before anyone had found this post so I decided it needed an edit because it’s too funny to go unloved.  This happened when I was writing book one, The Legion Awakes, in the local Starbucks.  The very one whose store number became Lance Scipio’s beloved 6907th TAC Regiment.  I was spread out over the long corner table organizing the story, so I could fix issues Tim C. Taylor had with the combat scene.  The scene in question was part of what became the novella The Demons of Kor-Lir which is still available to those who sign up for my mailing list.

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Like I said, I had to share what happened.  I had just finished a very early draft and sent it to my editor, Tim C. Taylor.  This was before Corey Truax came into the picture.  Anyway, as I poured over his critiques, I noticed that he suggested I bone up on my science and medical knowledge, since my death scenes didn’t read true.  Hey, I was a grunt… we haven’t trained to kill people with swords in a few years!  And swords in space?  Blimey, what sort of Army do you think I served in?  For some reason I’m envisioning Stripes meets The Jetsons but I digress.  I read Tim’s comments, until I had a flash of insight!  I realized my aunt was an ER nurse, so I decided to call her up to go over some things. 

 

While still sitting at the previously mentioned Starbucks I called my aunt – we talked about decapitations, death grips, arterial spray and how long it takes someone to bleed out.  Upon finishing my phone call I noticed that the Starbucks had gotten unusually quiet, the long table I was sitting at was suddenly empty and people were reacting as if they’d suddenly smelled something foul.  I swear, I almost sniffed my armpits to make sure we were good!  Then one of Virginia’s Finest, Officer Friendly, and yes names have been changed to protect the innocent, walked over and sat in the chair opposite mine.  When he had my attention, he got chatty.  “Everything alright here?  Anything you need to confess?  Do you need a lawyer?” 

 

Rarely one to be at a loss for words, I quipped a reply chalk full of my usual shenanigans.  “Nothing to see here officer, move along,” before laughing nervously.  Officer Friendly wasn’t smiling.  Sighing, knowing I needed to figure out what was really going on, I asked and waited for the big reveal. 

 

Officer Friendly was right there to clear it up, “So, murder plans this weekend,” he asked.  Was it ironically?  Meh, I don’t know but I was instantly relieved that there wasn’t something more serious.  Did I just type that?  Nothing serious about murder?  Man, the Army seriously warped my mind! 

 

Smiling, I simply informed him that I was working on my novel and consulting my experts to improve the text.  “I’m not a serial killer Officer, I’m just a writer.”  Luck was on my side, he chose NOT to check my browser history and all the murderous research I’d been doing.  The best part about all of this, it was the first time I called myself a writer out loud and around strangers.  Hopefully the times that follow won’t require armed law enforcement and a concerned public!  Well, unless the officers are protecting me from adoring crowds as I outsell the great JK Rowling!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

Playing with Legos

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Hello Space Cadets, how are you today?  I’m doing good and going through my interweb folders and finding older posts that nobody read.  I want to bring them into the light of day now that this is a real blog, so bear with me.  This was my fourth post, so climb with me into the wayback machine and let’s go!  I won’t even edit the errors, so you can see how far we’ve come!

 

Beep, bop, boop, beep…..

 

Looking back in time!

 

Today I was, in fact, playing with Legos.  My wife came home to find me playing with Legos after a long hard day at work housewifing.  Naturally she was curious, as there was real work to be done.  Dishes to be washed, Christmas presents to be wrapped, good ole fashioned adulting.  My answer was simple, “I’m building sand-tables.”  What are sand-tables you ask?  Well, they are places where you use sand that can be molded to accurately represent the topography of a specific battlefield.  Basically, you use a sandbox to plan your battles.  When I used this in Army ROTC, we sometimes even used little green army men!  I seem to remember those little troopers being the same color my face turned after I ate my first MRE!!!  I am using Legos (as well as army men, yay!) for this purpose, allowing me to plan out a battle that makes sense and can be clearly explained.  Hopefully this means I write better battle scenes, but at a minimum this helps me clarify things in my own head.  That’s an important factor if I’m going to tell that story to my audience.  Let’s just say she wasn’t convinced, but finally my puppy dog eyes paid off.

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> This image is under available under the free creative commons and was originally posted to Flickr.com.  It was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 15:22, 25 July 2007 (UTC) by Ranveig (talk). On that date it was licensed under the license linked to above.

World Building Wednesday: Sand Tables

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Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing today?  What’s that?  I can’t hear you, sound off like you got a pair!  And if you don’t, fake it till you make it!  So, now that I have your attention, let’s have a little chat over coffee!  Today I decided to give you get a sneak peek into how I wrote my battle scenes.  Let’s dive into the world of sand tables, sometimes called Recess for Soldiers!

 

So where to start, first let me start by discussing what a sand table is.  In a nutshell, a sand table is a surface bearing a three-dimensional map of a given piece of land.  According the Merriam-Webster, it’s “a table bearing a relief model of a terrain built to scale for study or demonstration especially of military tactics.”  Basically, I a super special map!  The military has used them since forever, long before Christ was even a Corporal.

 

Now that I’ve explained what a sand table is, I’ve decided to show you the one I made for my first novel.  Yes, The Legion Awakes, which will be published on December 19th, 2016.  It’s an improvised sand table for a combat scene in the novel involving a battle that my main character is involved in.  Wanna know more, read the book!  You’ve probably already read this, but please let me be prideful for just a few words!  I’m currently writing The Sleeping Legion Series set in the military science fiction world of Tim C. Taylor.  That book will be out soon, so I wanted to share some of how I got here.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let us return to our regularly scheduled programing.

 

Anyway, the key to a successful sand table is that they provide you with the opportunity to visualize the battle space in three-dimensions.  This allows you to better describe the field as you’ve envisioned it.  It allows you to envision all of the obstacles which might get in the way of the armies you are describing, though this could work for any type of writing, combat or otherwise.  I supposed I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that these can be used to model towns, and other generic settings for your works in progress.  Not as exciting, but certainly necessary.  They are used by the military for strategic visualizations, are extremely helpful with strategic planning, but can be used by everyone!!

 

Without further adieu, my masterpiece!

 

My Sand Table

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LEGEND:

Cups: Akoni Mountains

Green Sponges: Dense forests

Brown Building Blocks: Old Government Tower and Akoni City

Blue Paper: Water Features; Dynia River and Lake Charon

 

Now that we’ve covered this in depth, feel free to sound off in the comments below!  And if this tickled your fancy, click the follow button and never miss out on the insanity or shenanigans from the Handley Trenches!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

 

Space Dock Interview

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Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to offer you a gift in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season.  Don’t worry, it’s not a fruitcake.  It’s an interview with Paul P. Corcoran. Paul works at the publishing house, Tickety Boo Press, and their science fiction imprint, Space Dock.  I know most of my readers are also writers, so here is a chance to learn from a successful author and discover the publishing house that might print your next big idea!

 

To help you appreciate why I chose to interview him, let me tell you more about Paul.  He is the author of the Amazon best-selling Saiph novels, a military veteran, and has been appointed as Acquisitions Editor of Tickety Boo Press’s Space Dock imprint.  He is ideally suited to running Space Dock – not only has he served in the military in various roles, including security and intelligence, but his knowledge of the military and his love of Science Fiction have already combined into becoming a full-time career as a writer of action-packed SciFi.

 

On a more personal note, Paul is very willing to mentor new writers (though he likely regrets accepting my friend request!) through his social media presence.  He’s an overall decent fella, the kind you’d enjoy doing business with.

 

 

 

INTERVIEW:

 

JR:    Where did your company name come from? To my American ears, Tickety Boo sounds like an odd word.

Paul:  Tickety Boo is most definitely an odd word. In normal conversation, it refers to ‘things being OK’, however, in this context I had to ask the founder of Tickety Boo Press, Gary Compton, what it referred to.  It turns out that Gary is a big fan of a Scottish comedian called Billy Connolly whose production company went by the name of Tickety Boo, so in effect Gary stole, or should I say borrowed, the name in homage to Billy.

 

JR:    I’d like to talk about your work as the Acquisitions Editor of Space Dock. How did you come to this position?

Paul:  It happened rather oddly. I was in contact with Gary in early 2016 in relation to publishing my own work through his press, which led to several long conversations about my process for self-publishing the Saiph series and how I kept the various books in the Amazon listings for so long. At some point Gary asked if I could do the same with other good quality work, to which I foolishly answered, yes! Gary then asked me to take on the role of Acquisitions Editor of Space Dock, which I accepted in September 2016 and I’ve been hard at it ever since! I’ve filled Space Dock’s publishing schedule for the whole of 2017 already, but, I’m undeterred and I’m always on the lookout for more authors to join the Space Dock family. (Get in touch, People!)

 

JR:    You’re an author, with several successful novels under your belt. Tell us about your works and how your writing pulled you into the publication business.

Paul:  Well, as you know I’ve only been writing for a couple of years and I don’t have the advantage of any formal writing training. But, I’ve been an avid reader and fan of science fiction for as long as I can remember. A few years back I noticed the book market was flooded with very similar military sci-fi plots, I thought I could write something that I thought was missing – an epic ‘origins’ space opera – and I outlined what later became my first novel, Discovery of the Saiph. The story really developed itself, the basic premise is that the crew of the first faster-than-light ship discover a buried library from a long dead alien race called the Saiph, hence the title of the series. As I reached the 80,000-word mark of my first novel I realized that I couldn’t squeeze my whole story into one book and, before I knew it, my original outline turned into a four-book series! I was lucky enough to reach #1 in several of the Amazon bestseller lists with the series and even managed to slip in to Amazon’s Top 100 Science Fiction Authors for a short time.  The success of the Saiph series has been unexpected and amazing! I’ve been privileged enough to be able to give up my day job and write full time and to start on my new series, The K’Tai War.

Planned as a trilogy, the K’Tai series views interstellar war from different angles. While epic fleet engagements rule, I’ve thrown a more personal perspective into the mix with the Carters, who appear to be a run-of-the-mill family caught in the middle of an alien invasion of their planet Agate. But, the Carters have a secret past, which they thought they’d left behind, now, they must use all their skills to ensure their family survives. Without revealing too much of the plot, the K’Tai Imperium has its own problems and what they thought would be a quick invasion becomes much more… You’re going to have to read it if you want to know more, LOL.

Now, you’ve also asked me how I got into the publishing business. The answer is quite simple. I had no idea of the existence of agents or publishers.  My wife pointed out that I could self-publish on Amazon (whatever that meant!), so, I set about learning. I found myself an editor, with good reviews, from the internet. My wife, who has an art degree and is a computer geek, learned how to create book covers, format eBooks and print books and, before I knew it, I had a finished book and it was on sale worldwide, courtesy of Amazon.

This sounds pretty much like every other self-publisher, however, I quickly realized that getting your book onto Amazon was the easy bit. Finding a readership and keeping them is a whole other ball game. I knew very little about marketing, never mind marketing books, but I came across the brilliant advice of Joanna Penn. I’m not affiliated in any way, I simply think her website is packed full of great advice and mostly free.

After researching The Creative Penn and other similar websites, I discovered there was such a thing as eBook advertising, Amazon algorithms, SEOs and keywords. So, with the help of my wife, we devised a marketing plan and to our great surprise it worked! The Saiph series hit the bestseller lists and remained in the top 100 for many months, shortly after this Tantor Media contacted me through my website (just shows how important an author website is!) and they bought the audio rights for the complete Saiph series and the K’Tai War trilogy.

It was only after all of this had happened that I realized that if I could do this for myself then I could do it for others. Therefore, when Gary Compton came along with the offer of Acquisitions Editor for Space Dock I jumped at the chance. And voila! I am now involved in publishing.

 

JR:    As the Acquisitions Editor of Space Dock, what are you looking for in submissions?

Paul:  A good story. One that gets me hooked in the first ten percent. Why ten percent? Simple, Amazon allows you to read the first ten percent of any book free so if that ten percent doesn’t have the reader hooked then they’re not going to buy.

 

JR:    How do you decide which books to sign and which ones to pass on?

Paul:  Unlike traditional publishers, I don’t demand cover letters with bio’s and the like, I’m much more interested in the story and if you have a good story, you are most of the way there. I’m notoriously hard to please in terms of sci-fi stories, and I know if I like the story then other readers will too.

Also, unlike traditional publishers, I actively seek authors and I’ve found Facebook to be a great resource for doing that. I’ve met interesting authors and read fantastic works from people I’ve met on Facebook. I particularly love the flash fiction competition run by the Space Opera Writers page. (It’s a closed group for SF writers.)  I’ve found outstanding stories here and have even signed an author or two!

I have found, though, that there are authors who are a little too ‘precious’ about their work. By this I mean that they are reluctant to make changes to their work so it is more commercial, or to fit into a specific genre a little better. I, as an author, have learned that to make a living as an author, I have to appeal to my readers and it might mean changing my writing. In terms of publishing, if an author is not willing to do the same then I have to walk away.

There are also those authors who, after writing a great story, expect the publisher to do everything else for them. In my eyes the publisher has responsibilities to market and sell the book. However, the author also needs to be involved in actively seeking publicity and for building their own following. If I don’t get a sense of this ambition from an author, I won’t sign them.

In essence, all I’m looking for is a good sci-fi story and an author who is willing to work at building their readership.

 

JR:    What types of publishing do you offer? (Tradition Publishing, Co-Publishing, Self-Publishing)

Paul:  Space Dock is primarily an eBook publisher whose major market is Amazon. Space Dock will provide cover design, editing, formatting, advertising and marketing opportunities. Books we publish will be available as eBooks, paperback and even limited edition hard covers.  In this day and age, however, the publishing lines are becoming blurred and in my view Space Dock are taking on more of an ‘agent’ role. We are able to offer the sale of audiobook rights to our contacts in market leaders Audible and Tantor Media, or use our in-house production team to produce the audiobook.

In the near future, Space Dock hopes to move into the field of foreign rights and give our authors the opportunity to have their books translated and selling worldwide. I have successfully secured contracts for my own work in Spanish, Portuguese and I’m making inroads in the Chinese market.  I am actively researching how to do this on a larger scale for all authors signed to Space Dock.

Our focus is author success, to that end we will encourage authors to build a relationship with their readers, if an author doesn’t already have a website Space Dock will build one for them, free of charge. We will also provide a dedicated Author Page on the Space Dock website.

In terms of self-publishing, Space Dock’s parent company, Tickety Boo Press, offers various self-publishing services to authors which can be found on their website.

 

JR:  What sub-genres of science fiction do you prefer?

Paul:  My personal preference is military science fiction, however, whenever I began receiving submissions for Space Dock, I discovered I enjoyed all kinds of sci-fi sub genres,  as I eluded to earlier, if I receive a good story then I will not say no because it doesn’t fit into military SF. Space Dock’s 2017 publishing schedule bears this out, as you will find everything from dystopian to time travel to military to near fantasy.

 

JR:  How does someone submit to Space Dock?

Paul:  Simple. You email me at paul.corcoran@ticketyboopress.co.uk with the word ‘submission’ in the subject line. Attach a synopsis and the first three chapters and I will get back to you when I have read it. How easy is that?

 

JR:  After an author has signed with you, and the novel is done with the last editing pass, what do you expect of your authors?  What part of the process do you cover?

Paul:  Space Dock will publicize the author and their work on social media platforms, blogs etc., we’ll arrange regular advertising and organize interviews, however, in the modern world that is not enough. Space Dock expects their authors to use social media, their friends and family, fellow authors and anyone else they know to let the world know about their book.

 

JR:  What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Paul:  It depends on the author’s goals. If your ambition is to simply publish a quality book, then get it edited or at least proof read and publish it on Amazon, Smashwords or Draft2Digital. For me Amazon has the biggest reach. If you publish with KDP Select your book is available for sale and for borrowing. Don’t produce your own cover, unless you are a designer in your day job! You will need a decent cover and there are many cover designers online who are low-cost and look out for pre-made cover offers which may fit your book exactly. If your goal is to self-publish and sell books to make a living, then you need: a great book, well edited and proof read, a great book cover (don’t, I repeat, don’t produce one yourself, unless as I said earlier you are a designer), a marketing plan and a small advertising budget. You will also need to work hard at promoting yourself, building an email list and a following on your social media of choice, whether it’s a blog, Facebook, twitter, Instagram or a forum. Also, be prepared to approach audio publishers or translators to sell your audio and translation rights or to get them produced. The other option is to come to Space Dock and we’ll help you along your way, LOL. Just kidding! … no really…

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look Paul Corcoran and Space Dock up here:

Space Dock

Paul Corcoran

paul.corcoran@ticketyboopress.co.uk

paul@ppcorcoran.com

 

I hope you all had a great time getting to know about one of the United Kingdom’s newest publishing house!  Don’t be afraid to say hello here or on their own website.  They’re always quick to respond when not searching slush piles for the next big thing!  And for proof of their ability to handle a stressed-out author, Paul is friends with little ol’ me!  Quick, give that man a medal!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry! 

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.