Sherrie Henry is here today talking football and her latest release, Flag on the Play. Be sure to check out the excerpt below!
We’ve made it to stop five on my blog tour to promote my newest release, “Flag on the Play.” Thank you to Boy Meets Boy for having me!
As I’m writing this, the Super Bowl is happening, the penultimate football game of the year. I’ve always been a big football fan, thus my MCs in ‘Flag on the Play,’ Liam and Cody, are football players.
It’s been a few years since the sensation of the NFL’s first openly gay player, Michael Sam, gained fame on the world stage. Unfortunately, I think the notoriety of his sexual preference did him in, as a scant three years later, he’s no longer even playing football. I just have to wonder why his sexual preference had to be such a big deal in the first place. Did it hinder his ability to play football? Um, no. But his ‘coming out’ made news, made him a celebrity whether he liked it or not, and eventually, that aspect of his life overwhelmed his football accomplishments.
I’d love to live in a world where you are judged by your triumphs and successes, not the color of your skin, the gods you worship, or who you want to have a relationship with. I long for a day where no one has to ‘come out,’ where love is love. In my story, the coming out is almost brutal, with emotions running high and at least one punch is thrown; per my research, sometimes this is the outcome for teens trying to express themselves in small-town America.
I included some help line numbers in my introduction to the book; if anyone out there needs someone to talk to, please take advantage of those numbers. As the PSAs say, Life, it gets better.
Sherrie was born and raised in Southern Indiana, in a small farming community. A stop-over at Indiana University in Bloomington to earn bachelors and masters degrees was the next step before she struck out to the big city of Chicago. She has lived in the ‘burbs of the Windy City for the past 19 years, currently residing with her dog Rocky and teaching at the local community college. She is a third-degree black belt in hapkido and is considering a run for a fourth-degree before hanging up the ol’ black belt. Writing and photography are her hobbies, and hopes that she can add travel to her hobbies soon.
Cody hides their relationship by platonically dating a cheerleader, much to Liam’s dismay. The jealousy, secrets, and stress of dealing with hateful messages coming from religious bigots push Liam to the breaking point, and he turns to cutting himself. Things go from bad to worse when the rest of the school finds out Liam and Cody are more than friends. Even if they can get through this difficult time, Cody’s family will soon be moving back to the city, and Liam knows his chances of standing alone against the rest of the town aren’t good.
Though there might be a glimmer of hope in Liam’s future, he’ll have to travel a dark road to reach it.
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
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Liam lingered over his pot roast, trying to find a segue into the family conversation that would lead him to asking about staying at Cody’s. It had rained most of the day on and off. The humidity in the air and the pastor’s droning on and on had made it hard for Liam to pay attention during the sermon. His mind kept wandering to the night before and just as his memory would play the kiss, he’d remember where he was and his cheeks would burn.
He had questioned himself all during the sermon, all during lunch. Was he going to hell for what he felt? Should he even consider being with Cody, though, by the nature of their sleepy little town, it would be a fairly platonic relationship? Or could he see himself becoming more with Cody, going beyond kissing? His mind tumbled over and over until he wasn’t certain which direction was up. But all that changed when he logged into his computer that afternoon and found Cody had left him a message. Just a little note saying he hoped Liam had a good day and he missed talking to him. Nothing overt, nothing sexual, nothing that could be construed beyond a friend talking to a friend. But it meant the world to Liam, and he made up his mind. While he wouldn’t fully come out of the closet, he wasn’t going to deny himself his feelings.
Now he was hoping to find a way to spend time with Cody without bringing any suspicion on either of them. He jabbed at a piece of carrot while listening to his parents discuss the new mall going in on the outside of town.
“There’s talk of putting in a theater.”
Liam looked over at his mother. “Really?”
“That’s what I heard. Six screens. And they want to sponsor some oldie nights. Show some musicals and older classics. What I wouldn’t give to see Brigadoon on the big screen.”
“I swear, if Gene Kelly was still alive, I’d have some stiff competition.” Liam’s dad gave his mom a smile.
“You’re absolutely right. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. He was so debonair, classy.” She reached over and gave Steven’s hand a squeeze. “But don’t worry, you are just like him.”
Liam rolled his eyes. He’d heard all about his mother’s crush on Gene Kelly since he was a toddler. They’d sit and watch all his musicals in the afternoons before his dad got home from work. Liam could pretty much recite every one of them by heart.
“So, Liam, what do you think about the mall? Gonna be a place for you and your friends to hang out?” His mom took another roll from the basket.
“If there’s a comic book store, for sure.”
“I’ll never understand what you see in those comic books. Too much violence in my opinion.”
“I had comics as a kid. I don’t see any harm in them, sweetheart. Besides, we’ve raised a thoughtful, respectable boy who doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. Well, except when it comes to football, right, son?”
Liam looked over to his dad. “I’m only a punter. I don’t get to do much tackling.”
“All the more reason we shouldn’t worry about your comic book reading. I don’t think they’ve influenced you in the least.”
“I still don’t like them.” Liam’s mom got up and collected some dishes off the table.
“I don’t think they’re marketed toward girls, dear.”
“Actually, some are. And some of the artists are girls too. I think the industry’s evolving.” Liam slid his plate over to his mother.
“Where did you hear that?” His mom put the dishes in the sink.
“My friend, Cody. You know, the one who stayed over a couple weeks ago?” Liam was grateful he could swing the conversation over to Cody.
“Oh yes, the one with the weird hair. Seems like a nice young man, regardless. Although—” Sarah started scraping the remnants of food off the plates. “You know, his family never comes to church. And I haven’t heard of them going to the Methodist church either.”
Liam shrugged. “Maybe they’re a denomination that we don’t have here. They’re only here for a few months. Maybe they didn’t want to get too attached to a new church.” His heart started beating faster. He knew if they ever hooked him up to a lie detector, he’d be found guilty as charged.
“Perhaps.” Liam’s dad picked up the last two plates and set them on the counter. “I’m heading to watch the late game. Anyone want to join me?” He gave Sarah a peck on the cheek.
“I’ll be in right after I put the dishes in the dishwasher.” She patted Steven’s face.
Liam looked over to his father. “Um, can I ask something before you go?”
“Cody’s having a little get-together, watching a bunch of movies all night. Next Friday. He invited me. Can I go?”
Liam’s dad raised an eyebrow. “Movies?”
“He said they were all PG or PG-13. No adult stuff. And his parents would be there, of course.” Liam’s words came out fast.
“What do you think, Sarah?”
Liam’s mom pursed her lips for a moment. “Well, as long as you swear the movies aren’t violent or contain sex, I don’t see why not. You hosted him a couple weeks ago. I don’t see the harm in him reciprocating.” She sat down next to Liam. “But I want you to promise to call us as soon as any drinking or drugs come out.”
“Mom! His family is not like that.”
Sarah raised an eyebrow. “How do you know? Maybe I should meet them first.”
All sorts of scenarios ran through Liam’s head. What if Cody’s mom wore a pentagram or didn’t wear a bra? Or Cody’s dad started in on religion, or politics? “Is that necessary?”
“I agree with your mother. We should meet them first. Now that I think about it, his parents let him stay here without meeting us. What kind of parent does that?”
“Cody is seventeen. Maybe they are a little looser with him as he’s almost an adult. He has his own car and driver’s license.”
Liam’s mom nodded. “Perhaps. But I still want to meet them before I agree. I’m not saying no, I just want to make sure my baby, ahem, my very grown-up son is going to be okay at their place. Can you get me their phone number?”
“Yes, I’ll text Cody for it.”
Liam’s dad leaned against a chair. “I remember the days when a family had one telephone number and the phone was in the kitchen.”
“Yes, dear, and you hiked two miles uphill in the snow both ways to school.”
Steven leaned over and gave Sarah a kiss. “So you’ve heard the story?”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Too many times. Now both of you, shoo. I’m going to finish the dishes.”