New Page: Downloads

The Downloads page contains free goodies for you, just to show our appreciation for your visit. There you’ll find wallpapers for your desktop (or smartphone, eventually).

Seal of the Office of the Mediator - Sol III Div. is now available

Seal of the Office of the Mediator – Sol III Div. is now available

We’ll add more goodies as we think them up!

Getting Married, Denebian Style

Since I began writing A Time To Build, I also began envisioning what die-hard fans of The Umea Bakearen might do to:

  1. Show their complete devotion to the UB series;
  2. Freak out their mundane friends and neighbors.

Going back over the story, I realized that there are a lot of folks marrying each other. We all have heard of the big geeky theme weddings where everyone dresses up in Starfleet uniforms, or Jedi robes (Heck, I wanted to do both, but my wife would have none of it. I married her anyway). If you and your loved one are particularly geeky, but don’t have a very large budget, you can get hitched like Denebians!
The Denebian ceremony is short and simple. In addition to yourself and your intended, you need three or more witnesses. Since this is Earth, it would help if one of them is licensed, certified, or whatever else it takes to be a legal officiant. Check your local laws.
In a Denebian Marriage By Oath, The parties name each other Maiteakren (my-TAY-ahk-ren), a term meaning beloved, soul mate, life partner, and spouse. The naming statements can be as formal or informal as you choose, and goes like this:

“I, [your name], before these three witnesses, name thee, [your intended], Maiteakren.”

After they have both named each other, they are married (maiteak, in the Denebian tongue).
It’s a short and sweet ceremony, so short that anyone who comes in late might miss the whole thing entirely. Relatives expecting a longer ritual might feel a bit cheated, at least until they realize that it gets everyone to the reception that much faster.
Since the ratification of the Sol-Deneb Treaty, many Denebians have added elements of Earth customs to their events, too, so it’s alright if the naming ceremony is accompanied by other traditional elements.

Character Profile: Ben Elan

Wayne Freed and Ben Elan were switched at birth. Wayne didn’t learn of the switch until he was sixteen, but Ben always knew, from the time that he could first understand such things. He spent his entire life in the public eye, and grew to enjoy the attention he received, especially from his female groupies. He was Umea Bakearen, and he loved it.
Still, he envied Wayne. Ben grew up a celebrity, meaning everywhere he went, people recognized him and wanted to meet him. Wayne, on the other hand, was practically anonymous where he lived. He could go places by himself, without being harassed by fans.
When Wayne and Ben first met face-to-face, they wanted to hate each other because they each felt that the other had a better life. As soon as they recognized that one thing they had in common, they had a good laugh and became best of friends.
Ben was a playboy, receiving and accepting propositions from females of just about every humanoid race, until he met Sonja Hart. After falling in love with her, he abandoned his former lifestyle.
In addition to his role as Wayne’s counterpart, he also bears the distinction of being the only non-Aldebaran to successfully imprint a barkmoth, which he named “Little” Hank.
After the conclusion of Sol-Deneb, Ben served as Sol’s Ambassador to the Galactic Council for just over six years.

A Bit of Amazon Magic

Greetings, Terrans!
Did you know that there is a way to shorten links to your books on Amazon without going to third-party sites like It’s true! Take this link, for example, which goes to A Time To Build:
Long and unwieldy, right? Try Tweeting that, and you won’t have enough characters left to say anything about it.
But all you have to do is edit it, like this…
…and it goes to the same page! Magic! Well, no, it’s not magic, it’s technology! This little feature is probably documented, somewhere, but you’ll tear your hair out looking for it. The set of characters in the link is your book’s ASIN code. Keep this little trick in mind, and you’ll soon be Tweeting your books like the pro you are!

Character Profile: Tony Diego

There has been a challenge going around facebook (perhaps you’ve seen it?) to list five details about one of your main characters. I’ve been tagged in this game several times, and it reminded me that I’ve sort of neglected to add more character profiles to this site. Sorry about that.
Tony Diego was a Desert Storm veteran. He flew A-10s, which are still one of his favorite fighter jets, even now that he’s flown spaceships. This is because in space, it hardly feels like you’re moving.
His character was created after watching a marathon of NCIS episodes, so he is inspired by Special Agent Tony DiNozzo from that series.
Like DiNozzo, Tony Diego tends to use pop culture references when he’s stressed. That trait makes him hard to write, because I have to make sure that whatever movies or programs he’s quoting actually existed during the time the Umea Bakearen stories take place (The first book is set in 1995-96, while the second begins in 2001. Eventually, the settings will catch up to the present, and then go beyond).
After events in A Time To Build, Tony was awarded the Luken Zaio Medal of Valor by the Denebian Government. If you’ve read it, you know which event. If you haven’t, the book is available (see links at right!). He’s the first Terran ever to receive that honor.
Finally, Tony simply can’t stand gagh! He does love a good corn dog, though, and he can tell you where the best vendors are in every system he’s been to.

Character Profile: Lynne (Hart) Freed

Lynne Hart was born on Deneb, in the town of Green Vale (Gailurerra in the local tongue). When she and her twin sister, Sonja, were still children, they began to dream that they might someday meet Wayne and Ben, the Umea Bakearen of the Sol/Deneb Treaty.
Lynne and her sister have always been fierce competitors, mostly because Denebian twins are so rare that people expect great things from them. Their competitiveness causes them to push themselves so hard that they often end up injured, usually at the same time.
Both Lynne and Sonja have an inborn ability to quickly learn languages, making them natural-born interpreters. They also have an uncanny ability to read body language, making them natural-born truth detectors as well.
As a young girl, Lynne met Wayne several times, though they never truly connected until they were thrust together on an Aldebaran hiking trail. They quickly fell in love and married soon after.
Lynne and Wayne have had three children: Luken, Alaia, and Kemen. Though she is a stay-at-home mom, she and the children now travel with Wayne wherever duty takes him. Because Wayne was raised on a quarantined planet, he often relies on her experience when traveling.

Character Profile: Wayne Freed

Wayne Freed was born April 15, 1968 (1999.319.1538 GCE) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. At least, that’s how his birth certificate reads. He really was born on that date, or the Denebian equivalent, but Deneb City was his actual birthplace. He was born Ben Elan, but after the Sol-Deneb exchange, he was given the name of his counterpart, the other Umea Bakearen.

Wayne was completely unaware of the exchange until soon after his sixteenth birthday, when his adoptive father, Robert Freed, revealed the truth to him. He had been born for a purpose, to keep Earth (Sol III to the Galactic Union) from destruction.

Wayne Freed is married to Lynne Hart Freed, and is the father of Luken, Alaia, and Kemen.

The Galactic Council Era (GCE) Calendar

Deciphering Dates and Times in The Umea Bakearen

Because there are over five hundred systems in the Galactic Union, with as many different-lengthed years, keeping track of dates and times can get a little confusing. Before the formation of the Union, there was no standard calendar, and all systems that did trade with one another had to remember which calendar contracts and agreements were governed by.

Year 1 GCE

With the formation of the Union and the Galactic Council, a standardized calendar was proposed to simplify trade, commerce, and treaties. Taking the average length of the inhabited planets’ years and rounding to the nearest standard day, the Council defined a standard year as 360 standard days. A standard day is 24 hours long, just as on Earth. The Galactic Council Era (GCE) began with the first Union Convention, now known as UnionCon.

Today, UnionCon is held on the last 20 days of the year. Sentient beings from all member systems come together to participate in cultural exchanges, trade, entertainment, and cooperation. The Galactic Council also holds its main session during this time.

Dates and Times in the GCE

The Galactic Union uses a date stamp format that uses year, day, and hour+minute. The Sol-Deneb Treaty was ratified on April 19, 1968 by Earth’s Calendar. By the GCE Calendar, the year was 1999, day 323, so it was recorded as 1999.323 GCE.

When an hour is required, it’s appended to the end of the date stamp: 1999.323.0857 would be 8:57 am, Greenwich mean time, on April 19, 1968 (the actual time of the signing of the treaty).


A Time To Mourn is Coming!

A Time To MournWe’re getting closer to the release of A Time To Mourn. It’s gone through the second revision, and is heading out to proofreaders as we speak…Well, okay, we’re not really speaking. I’m typing and you’re reading…and by the time you read this, I won’t be typing anymore…

The second revision is getting looked over. I hope to be ready to publish the second book in the Umea Bakearen Series by the end of March 2014.

In the meantime, if you haven’t yet read A Time To Build, it’s still out there, just waiting for you. Check out the links over there on the right!

Watch out for barkmoths!

Rick, for the Office of the Mediator, Sol III Div.

The Desolation of Peter Jackson

Okay, I finally went to see The Desolation of Smaug…I liked the movie, as long as I prevented myself from remembering it was supposed to be an adaptation of a classic novel. I’ve been reading The Hobbit just about once every year or so for the last twenty-thirty years, so there were way too many times I had to avoid yelling at the screen (I couldn’t help but wonder if they could have done the story in one installment if they didn’t put so many of the gratuitous 3-D shots that every producer seems to think are required, but I wish warranted the death penalty–but I digress).

I liked most of the characters (hey, wasn’t that Doctor #7?), and the conversation between Bilbo and Smaug went almost as I would have imagined it.

As a generic fantasy adventure, I’d give the story a 3 out of 5 (points get knocked off every time someone throws something at the camera).

As a Tolkien fan, though, I give it a 2, for ruining the whole Beorn encounter, and for all the Sauron-is-coming foreshadowing. We’re not idiots, Mr. Jackson.