Hi guys, we have Sherrie Henry stopping by today with the tour for her upcoming release Flag on the Play, we have a brilliant guest post from Sherrie and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Flag on the Play
Sixteen-year-old football punter Liam Hartley has come to terms with being gay, but it isn’t something his religious and conservative community will ever accept. He’s isolated in his Midwest town until Cody Williams transfers to his school from Chicago. A proud bisexual young man, Cody shows Liam he isn’t alone—or abnormal—and they soon become more than friends.
Despite the intimate, secret world he shares with Cody, Liam is in pain. The hatred spewed by bigots has an effect on Liam, even if Cody carefully hides their relationship with a pretend girlfriend. Liam is jealous—he doesn’t want to have to share Cody, and he doesn’t want to have to live in shame. Cutting himself seems to be the only way to deal with everything he’s suffering, and things only get worse when Liam and Cody are outed in front of the school. And even if they can make it through the hardship, they know their relationship is destined to end when Cody’s family returns to the city.
Liam can’t go back to facing the hatred and religious judgment by himself. He won’t survive it. Somehow, Liam and Cody must secure a future for both of them, and that means finding a way to stay together.
It’s the first stop on my blog tour for the release of my new novel, “Flag on the Play.” Thank you to Pixie and MM Good Book Reviews for having me!
I’m a huge football fan, have been since I was a little girl, watching Sunday football with my dad. Being in Southern Indiana (before the Colts moved to Indianapolis), the closest team was the Cincinnati Bengals, thus they became my favorite. Close seconds were the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, taking after my dad because he liked them. Why the Packers and Vikings? Because, according to my dad, they played ‘real’ football – football in the elements. No domes for them, at least back in the 70s. My Packers are still true to real football, but the Vikings; not very Viking-like to have a climate-controlled, non-muddy, no rain/snow football games, is it?
Thus, my love for football became the catalyst for my newest novel, about two football players who fall for one another. It’s based on my hometown, where attitudes toward same-sex relationships haven’t changed since the 60s and if you weren’t a member of one of the numerous churches, you were an outcast. While the town square has seen the comings and goings of various restaurants and shops, the atmosphere hasn’t changed. You can actually ‘feel’ the repression in the air.
So how do two guys find a way to be together and keep their secret? How does one deal with the soul-eating guilt over said relationship? Those are just two of the obstacles my characters, Liam and Cody, face while trying to navigate their newly-formed bond.
Releasing on 7 February 2017 through Harmony Ink, I hope you’ll check out either the ebook or paperback
“Liam, yo, wait up!”
Liam turned around at Cody’s voice. “What up?”
“Good practice today. Coach said I’ll be starting in the first game.”
“I knew you would. You can run and breathe, and heck, you can even catch. Coach would’ve been nuts to hold you back. Looks like we’re going to have a good season this year.” Liam gave out a little laugh.
Cody caught up with Liam and fell in step with him. “Well, yeah, I figured as much. But to start when I didn’t practice with you guys all summer.” He shrugged. “My old coach wouldn’t have allowed that.”
“Coach is pretty informal like that. Heck, he’s allowed players to come in midseason. We’re so small that the football association lets us make substitutions, just as long as Coach doesn’t try to bring in a ringer. You’re not a ringer, are you?”
Cody snorted. “Hell no. Couldn’t you tell? I guess I’m decent enough, just because I can run while not looking where I’m going.”
“Yeah, I noticed. You seemed to catch every ball thrown, even the lousy ones.”
“Hey, you wanna get some practice time in together?”
Liam shrugged. “Guess so. We’ve got a pretty big backyard. My dad will sometimes come out and practice with me.”
“Cool. Friday after school? Coach said no practice on Friday.”
“Well, I… I have plans.”
“But if you want to come over, you can. It’s my birthday party. Nothing big, pizza, soda, cake. Maybe a pick-up game, or we could toss the football, that could be practice.”
“You sure you want me hanging out with your friends? I’m not exactly conventional, you know.”
“Most of the guys think you’re so cool, with your hair and all. None of them would dare color their hair, they’d be disowned.”
“You have no idea. This town is stuck in the 1950s. There’s been talk about your family not attending church.”
“Damn, does everyone go to church?”
“Any Jewish people around here?”
“No, just curious.”
Liam hiked his bag higher up on his shoulder. “No Jewish people, no Muslims, heck, no Catholics. Everyone is Protestant and either go to the Methodist church or the Baptist one.”
“My family isn’t religious. Sunday’s all about sleeping in, lazing around, maybe watching a game on the TV or watching a movie. You Methodist or Baptist?”
“Baptist. But—” Liam wanted to talk with Cody about his religious crisis, but wasn’t sure he’d be received well, even with a person who wasn’t religious.
Liam pointed to a brick retaining wall along the front of a yard. “Can we sit?”
Cody shrugged and plopped down on the wall. “Shoot.”
Liam sat down next to him. For some reason, he threw all caution to the wind. In retrospect, he was glad he did. “Do you believe in God? I mean, you don’t have to answer that if you don’t want.”
“Nah, you can ask me anything. And yeah, I believe in a higher power, just not a Christian God. I can’t believe there’s this all-seeing patriarch in the sky who takes notice of our every move.”
“What do you believe?”
“Well, my mom’s a—look, this doesn’t go beyond us, right? I know we’re only here for a few months, but I don’t want any cross burning or harassment.”
Liam grunted. “No cross burning here. While it may look and sometimes act like the 1950s here, we are a bit more civilized. And yes, I swear, this is between you and me.”
“My mom’s a Wiccan. She believes in a dual higher power. She believes that the higher power can’t be exclusively male or female. If it was entirely male, how could it create a female and vice versa. Also, whatever you put out into the universe will visit you in threes. Put out good, good will come back to you threefold; do bad and you’ve got some bad karma heading your way.”
“And your dad? Is he Wiccan too?”
“Dad’s more of an agnostic, doesn’t really know if there is a higher power or not, but he lives a good, moral life.”
“Sorta like my mom. Not entirely sold on the Wiccan thing, but I like the ‘do good and good will return threefold’ thing. So what about you? Are you into the Christian thing?”
Liam looked off into the distance, watching a squirrel run up a light pole and scamper across the wires. He wished he could just scamper away without a care in the world. He collected his thoughts. “I-I-I don’t know. The stuff they talk about and believe, I just can’t get behind sometimes.”
Liam swallowed. He really didn’t want to get into the whole “same-sex marriage” issue with an almost stranger. But he did feel at ease with Cody. Plus, it wasn’t a secret the church was anti-gay. “The big thing right now is the same-sex marriage issue. Most people are all up in arms about it. They think gay people are going to corrupt all the children.”
Cody laughed. “I wonder how they’d feel if they realized they probably already know a gay person.”
Liam felt his cheeks get warm. Did Cody know? Was there a way to identify a gay person Liam wasn’t aware of? “What do you mean?”
“The current research estimates about five percent of the population is gay, maybe more. This town has what, five thousand people? So there’s probably a couple hundred gay people around here.”
Liam’s eyes lit up. “A couple hundred? Wow.”
“The percentage is probably lower here, being in the middle of nowhere, but even two to three percent gives you about a hundred people. Since it seems everyone knows everyone, then everyone knows a gay person.”
“I never realized.”
“Yeah, most people will ignore the things they don’t want to see. You have any older adults, two men or two women, who are roommates?” He accentuated the word roommates with air quotes.
“There’s Bill and John, they’ve been roommates for as long as I can remember. They live two blocks over from me.”
“Not to say they are, not to say they aren’t. It is possible for two older same-sex people to live together, but does give you pause.”
“I guess you’re right, never even thought of them as possibly gay.”
Cody tilted his head toward Liam. “So it’s the social issues that makes you question your faith?”
“Mainly. I do have a problem with people picking and choosing what they want to follow out of the Bible.”
“My mom says the Bible is a good book for morals and has some good fables and lessons, but it’s a work of fiction in her eyes.”
“Don’t let anyone around here hear you say that.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
“You get to leave in a few months. Go back to civilization. I’m stuck in the 50s for two more years.”
“It can’t be all bad.”
Liam let out a breath. He wavered a moment, but since both of them had been honest, he decided it was time to tell his secret. “You know the five percent?”
“I’m one of them.”
Cody shrugged. “Yeah?”
“I’m the first one you’ve ever told.” Cody said it as a statement, not a question.
“I’m honored. I consider myself bisexual.”
“Yep. I date girls and boys. I find everyone pretty fascinating.”
“So, what’re you gonna do for two years? Seems like everyone here pairs off, just like those sitcoms from the ’50s. How you gonna get away from not going to prom or dating?”
Liam shrugged. “I’m not sure. Fake it, I guess.”
“You really think the world would end if you came out?”
“My world here, yes.”
“You know you are kinda cute.”
Liam felt his cheeks redden. “I’m cute?”
“You’ve got that small-town, all-American boy charm going for you. I find it adorable. Where I come from, most kids my age are already jaded, like they’ve seen too much and just don’t care anymore. I like that everyone here is kinda innocent, to an extent. I’m just going to have to deal with the bigotry while I’m here. Date only girls.”
“I-I think you’re kinda cute too.”
Cody looked left and right then put his hand over Liam’s. “Let’s hang out. Your parents allow you to have friends over, right?”
Liam felt his heart start to race. He looked around as well, seeing no one in the near vicinity. It felt good to have Cody’s hand on top of his. “Yeah, sure.”
“So, we’ll hang. If we end up liking each other, well, that’s just a benefit. We’ll just have to keep it quiet.”
“I’d like that.”
Other Sherrie Henry books
“Last of the Summer Tomatoes” (Young Love’s Journey #1) Young Adult M/M Romance Novel
“Two Red Leaves” (Young Love’s Journey #2) New Adult M/M Romance Novel
“A Wolf’s Bane” Paranormal M/F Romance Novella
Born and raised in Southern Indiana, this Hoosier transplanted herself to the Windy City after graduate school. Her passion is teaching, with writing come a close second and gaining momentum. She currently teaches College of DuPage as an adjunct professor in the physical education department and runs a martial arts studio in Naperville, IL. She holds the rank of 3rd Dan in the United States Hapkido Federation.