Please say hello to Sandra Bard and
Finding His Feet
Hi, I’m Sandra Bard and thank you for inviting me on the site to promote my new book, Finding his Feet.
This is my second book from Dreamspinner press and was released yesterday. I was so excited when it was accepted. It felt like a lot of hard work had paid off in the end.
The first draft of the story was so very different, mostly because my character was in a different color. Not his race, but the armor he wore.
Kaden Pace is an armored warrior, one of the very few people who can wear these specialized suits meant for fighting. There was few in existence and some have abilities that other armors do not. I envisioned the whole story around him but something just didn’t match up as I wrote it. Half way through, I had to admit I was stuck, but I liked what I had written so far. So I called up my long time friend Kush and forwarded what I had written to her.
She called me up a couple of days later. “Your guy in the story…what’s his name…”
“Yeah, you gave him a red armor.”
“Yes.” I wanted red, he was the main character and for some reason, having watched a bunch of anime during the time I had been writing the story, I was convinced the red was color of the main hero.
“Iron man can wear a red armor, this guy can’t,” Kush told me bluntly.
I had forgotten that Iron man wore a red armor. *Wince* Which was funny, I loved Iron man, and his armor could stop a missile and fly and talk back to him and do all that much, but I never based Kaden’s armors off of it. Mine were grittier, heavier and altogether different. I felt like a fool. Why had I made it red? It felt so unrealistic when I thought back on that decision.
But as an author who can be pig headed about an idea, I protested. “What’s wrong with red, it’s eye catching and cheerful?” Yes, I was really reaching for it.
“Your character is not,” Kush snapped at me. “I think half the time he’s trying hard not to draw attention to himself. He needs help.”
“He’s… yeah, you’re right, I should change it.” I thought it over. The horror of going back and re-writing stuff, point out one author who likes that! But as I thought it over, it started to make sense. I could see his personality blending with his armor, his armor was going to be special but for its ability and not its color. And with it, most of the problems I had with the original character became clear.
Kaden is just a private person, with a secret that is weighting him down. He was tired of the life he leads, of the endless fighting, of being in the army for over twenty years. But he doesn’t know any better. For him, a life outside the army was more alien than the dark side of the moon. It just didn’t exist.
Then, Shun bursts into his life with all the vigor and enthusiasm of a civilian. Shun has his own secrets and his own agenda but that is life. He is aware of a life beyond the constant war and though he is, in a way, stuck in his life
But as Kaden’s armor was defined by its abilities, Kaden defined it by wearing it and Shun, with his optimism and enthusiasm stepped in to show that there was more to life than war and destruction.On with the introduction to his armor.
Kaden Pace, a soldier injured while on a mission, hides the extent of his damage by wearing his high-tech armor, desperate to prove his worth to his administrators and make himself useful in order to hold on to his independence. But during a simple assignment to escort two cadets across the country to retrieve the armor of a dead warrior, things start to fall apart.
They meet Shun, a young man with a secret, who steals the armor they were supposed to recover. Chasing Shun brings them to an abandoned beach town, where they encounter even more trouble. Stranded in the deserted city, Kaden finds himself relying more and more on Shun, the person he’d come to capture, while fighting off an invasion from the neighboring country.
But even when he returns to his camp, Kaden’s problems are not over. Now he has to find a way to save Shun, whom he’s growing to care for, and keep his team alive as they make one last-ditch attempt to get back the armor Shun stole. Armor that is now in enemy hands, on an island in the middle of the sea, at ground zero where it all began.
The training field was arranged the same as it had always been, but that didn’t make the obstacles any easier to overcome. Kaden looked at the timer and took a deep breath. He could do it. He hadn’t done the main obstacle course since before his accident, and he was about to remedy that. Although he had cleared the indoor training course, this was the one that really counted. And if he couldn’t complete a simple course, then he wasn’t fit for active duty, no matter what.
The first step over the line triggered the timer. He started out at a run, scaled the twelve-foot wall, and fell to the other side easily, ignoring the hanging rope that he was supposed to use to slide down. He didn’t need to worry about the impact to his legs; his armor took care of it and the landing was surprisingly easy—more so than before the accident. As he strode forward, something snagged his armor where his ankle plating locked. Kaden scowled in frustration—he had landed on a patch of barbed wire and the wires had wrapped around his ankle, holding him in place. If he’d used the rope, he’d have landed on it a little more gently, but when he’d dropped, he’d squashed them, triggering some sort of trap.
Kaden decided he didn’t have to put up with the time-wasting bullshit of bending down and untangling the wires. There was a reason his armor had the plating it did: it was able to take a lot of beating. He needed to save his lasers, just about the only weapons in his armor, for later, in case he needed it. He pushed forward using his thighs and the armor moved, cutting through the wire as he waded across it, like twigs breaking under pressure. The sharp edges tore at the metal plating but didn’t get a proper grip, and Kaden didn’t worry too much. With luck, by the time he’d reached the end of the course, the plating would have “healed.”
He was through in a couple of seconds, mentally cheering himself—oh shit, pit, he thought before he hit the bottom of the trench that ran through the training field. The pit was generally said to be everywhere and nowhere. Theories about the seemingly self-moving ditch abounded: from the Army using magical means to move it, to prisoners of war being brought out at night just to dig and move dirt. He really didn’t care either way. All he knew was that he needed to get out of the five-foot-deep, two-foot-wide gash in the earth he’d fallen into.
He heard the whistling sound just in time to look and groan. There was a secondary trap, a huge boulder released from an overhead crevice. Kaden had two options: dodge or face it full on. Of course, there was always a third option: he could die.
He mentally checked his weapons status. They were half-charged, enough to blast the boulder to dust, but as he stood there bracing, it seemed as if time had slowed. He could see the large boulder falling on him, and he wondered what it would feel like to let it crush him. When the building had fallen, he’d felt very little pain, but the pressure had been enormous. He’d struggled to free his legs, caught under the beams that had fallen across him. He’d first felt the skin break. Then he’d heard the calf bones crack, toes break, ankles bend as the pressure increased, distant screams a muted buzzing in the background.
Then Vorani had run out. And that’s when Kaden knew he was going to die. He had lain there, his armor clutched in his hand, knowing he didn’t have the leverage to put it on. There wasn’t much use in putting his helmet on when the rest of his body was going to get crushed. He’d simply given up. As his mind had relaxed, he’d stopped resisting the mental uplink the armor had forged since the first time he’d worn it. He’d opened his mind to the armor controls fully for the first time in his life and accepted that he needed to be folded into it. He’d accepted what it had offered, companionship in his last moments after being abandoned by his partner. He’d always assumed he would die alone, but at that moment all he’d felt had been overwhelming loneliness and the need to be with someone.
He’d always felt the link with his armor, like a flicker at the corner of his eye or nudge at the back of his mind. When he’d finally realized he was always going to have that feeling of something knocking to be let in, he’d slammed the door shut. He’d never had what some warriors had, that almost-mythical connection that allowed them to know where the armor was with their eyes closed. Once he’d accepted he was going to die, he couldn’t fight his armor forever, even if that meant giving up on it. There had been a whisper in his mind—Sorry—and he could feel the self-repairing plates trying to fuse around him. Logically he knew he must have put on his armor, but what he remembered was different, almost dreamlike—no doubt his mind bowing to his inevitable death. The chest plating rolled over him, and the rest had poured like molten liquid. Through the gaps in the rubble, the boots had squeezed close to his crushed lower legs even as he scrambled to pull his lower body free. The building was collapsing, but if he could—
He snapped back to the present with a painful jolt to find himself at the bottom of the pit, arms above his head in a defensive position, the boulder just inches from his hands, and he hadn’t even activated the firing mechanism. For a moment his body seized. Finally, he thought when the boulder hit him, and he braced himself for pain and the inevitable—
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Meet the author:
Sandra Bard started writing when she was quite young because there was always a story inside her head, but never thought of writing for an audience until recently. She only decided to try her hand at writing for the sake of being published after a series of events left her with some free time and in between jobs. Now she has three jobs but writing is still her most favorite thing to do. Sandra grew up travelling the world from Africa to Asia and, though she now lectures full time at a university, dreams of having a job that wouldn't tie her down to one place. She enjoys reading books, watching anime and, occasionally, visiting a fan-fiction site. She also dabbles in tai chi and yoga in the hope they would keep her flexible and help lose weight. She lives with her pets (fish, cats, and dogs) and has been a volunteer for an organization that takes care of stray dogs (there are many, where she lives) for over ten years.
You can find the author on Tumblr, or contact her via email.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.