Friday, 1 November 2013

No Flag by Liz Berino

Please welcome Liz Borino to my blog today with her hot new m/m book, No Flags.

The Evolution of No Flags

No Flags starts with a news report about an explosion that caused a building to collapse and kill twenty Army Intelligence Officers in Afghanistan. Will Kelley has reason to worry that his husband, Mike, was one of the casualties. 

But that isn’t where the story started. Let me back up and bring you into my mind. Please don’t be scared. I had the above scene playing in my head for months. But I had no idea what to do with it. All I knew was these boys would not go away. Which I found particularly annoying because I did not like them at first. See, in my original vision of this book, Will spent three months unable to get information about Mike’s condition. In that version, Mike had chosen not to disclose to his sexuality because despite the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, there was – and still is – a lot of discrimination in the armed forces. So, Will was forced to assume Mike died and get on with his life. Until he walked in with only one arm. He had stayed away during the hardest parts of recovery out of pride. Anger is not a strong enough word for what Will felt. First, because Mike had put him through the pain of the not knowing. Secondly, Mike was not supposed to be deployed. They married right before the end of his contract, but the Army involuntarily extended it. Yet, everyone told Will he had no right to be angry and he should just be grateful his husband was alive. They had a catastrophic fight and the book ended with the couple starting over.

Things had to change because despite me not liking these characters – and telling them as much – they still refused to get out of my head. So, I changed the story. Captain Mike Kelley still falls in love with a civilian. The couple chooses a Domestic Discipline lifestyle, but Will is only comfortable committing to giving up control if Mike’s contract is finished at the end of February. Well, it’s supposed to be, but Stop Loss allows Mike’s superiors to force an involuntarily extension. Now, Will feels betrayed and devastated, even though Mike had no control over the situation. They reconcile before Mike’s deployment and do their best to keep their marriage and structure alive until Will sees the news report. This time, Mike is able to swallow his pride and call Will when he’s transferred to a hospital in the states. They had a hard road ahead of them in terms of physical and emotional recovery, but at least I could work with them.

Besides for the plot changes, the concept of time is very different in the published version of No Flags than the way I originally saw it. As an editor, I’m privileged to read many books. One author who inspired me is Anastasia Vitsky. When I read the first in her The Way Home series, I was dumbstruck by the way she made her story flow while jumping between time periods. It had never occurred to me that I didn’t need to start at the beginning and write to the end of a story. No transitions!  I loved it! I wrote scenes as they came to me and plopped them into the book. At the end I had… a mess! My betas followed for the most part, but I didn’t, and I couldn’t trust that other readers would. I rearranged the scenes in such a way that only two were out of order. Now I have a book I’m proud of and boys I’ve fallen in love with. I hope you will, too!


For Mike and Will, “No Flag” meant “come home alive,” but will their love survive what happens next? 

Captain Mike Kelley does not ignore his intuition, so when sexy bartender Will Hayes captures his heart, Mike embarks on a mission to win him over to a Domestic Discipline relationship. Will accepts with one caveat: Mike must promise not to renew his Army contract. Mike agrees, and they spend a year building a life together, getting married, and starting a business.  

Only days before their café’s grand opening, Mike receives news that threatens everything he and Will have built. The Army invokes the Stop Loss military policy to involuntarily extend his commission and send him back overseas. Will, left alone to cope with the café, must rely on the support of old friends who may be no longer be trustworthy. Through emails and Skype calls, Mike and Will keep their love and structure alive… until insurgents wage a horrific attack on Mike’s outpost. 

Mike awakens in a hospital with a devastating injury and no his memory of the attack. As the only survivor, Mike’s memory may be the key to national security. Mike struggles to cope with his injury and Will struggles to support the man who always held him up. Both fear they have lost their previous relationship. Will has Mike back rather than a folded flag, but in the aftermath of war, can they rebuild the life they had before?  Especially when those closest to them may not have their best interests at heart?

* * * *

Liz Borino transcribes the world inside her head onto the page, and share it with the people who are stuck in the “real world” to makes their lives a little more interesting. Because in her world, heroes fall and stand up again with the help of their partners and friends. Liz’s world is littered with formidable obstacles, which her heroes overcome with a fire of courage and passion. The beauty of love between two men is celebrated. Who wouldn’t want to live there?
When not with her heroes, Liz enjoys exploring cities, working toward social justice, and editing for other authors. Liz is less than three months from obtaining her Masters’ degree in English and published nine books since 2010.  

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