Marguerite Labbe on the Struggles with Addiction and her new story ‘A Whole Latte Sass (Geek Life #2)’

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A Whole Latte Sass (Geek Life #2) by Marguerite Labbe

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Marguerite Labbe here today to talk about the next story in her Geek LIfe series, A Whole Latte Sass.  Welcome, Marguerite!

 

 

Hello everyone. It’s great to be back at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. When I write, I like a mix of the serious and the humorous. I like to touch on topics that have affected me personally. For years I’ve wanted to write a main character who was a recovering addict, but it was always either too close to home or I just didn’t feel as I could do my best by him at the time. Then Trask Briscoe came along and I knew he was the one.

Trask had a rough start in life. His parents were addicts and his home was not a safe environment to be in. He did have his Grandmother though. She’s the one who gave him love and discipline in equal measure. She is the only one from his home that he thinks of with affection and respect. But that didn’t stop him from starting to use too. And when he left home, running as far as he could to the east coast, that demon followed him.

Addiction is a fact of life in my family as it is in so many other families, though people often don’t want to talk about it. I was sixteen years old when my mom went into rehab for drug use. I attended Alateen sessions for years. There’s a condition called “dry drunk” that can persist even after a person stops using. It’s where they continue the same behaviors and attitudes they had while they were using. Living with that is as bad as living with the addict. Though, my mom got clean, she might as well have been using for many more years before her time in therapy, rehab, and AA meetings started to make a profound change within her. She’s so strong and even now with almost thirty years of being clean she still goes to AA meetings and she’s a much more happy and stable person than before.

Trask had his ups and downs too. His road to getting clean was not an easy one and it’s why he clings so hard to his rules and the path he’s on. He’s utterly committed to staying off the drugs and alcohol. He’s very aware of the dangers of having “just one” as that “just one” bit him on the ass after being clean for over a year. I’ve seen people in the AA rooms who had five years sobriety and that one drink sent them on a tailspin. And I’ve also seen them have the amazing courage to stand up and collect that 24 hour chip after using again. I’ve lost people to this disease and so has Trask and I’ve also watched people transform their lives for the better.

My sister drank for years, hiding it from everyone. All the signs were there, but it’s so hard to see it sometimes. I ask myself how I could’ve missed it as do my parents and other siblings. I knew her history as a teenager. I worked at a rehab center for years. I missed it. We all missed it until we couldn’t any longer. So we staged an intervention and she went to AA for two years claiming the entire time she wasn’t an alcoholic until she was ready to face it. Her husband at the time didn’t believe alcoholism was really a disease and that caused other problems. It’s hard to quit when your SO thinks it’s only a matter of control. During the divorce she didn’t start drinking again, but she started using like mom, sleeping pills, antianxiety pills, anything she could get her hands on, until she hit a bottom on that one and crawled her way back out of the pit. She has a new husband who supports her whole-heartedly and her life is going in a new direction.

I have so much respect for the both of them. And there were times when I wrote scenes with Trask that I just cried because I recognized his struggle. I wanted to get it right and even with as much as I know it’s not the same as having gone through it. My sister read his scenes for me and gave me her input and her and my mom’s permission to talk about it. They are two tough beautiful ladies and a constant reminder to me not to let the statistics take your courage away. There are here and today they are clean. They provide leadership within their NA/AA circles and have made lifelong friends who know exactly what they are going through.

So if you, or anyone you love is struggling with addiction, please know that those circles work. I’ve seen them work. I’ve felt the energy and love there as well as the kind of firm, no nonsense accountability that everyone needs from time to time. And if you ever want a non-judgmental ear, I will be blessed to answer any email. Blessings to you all this New Year.

Excerpt

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“I don’t know why you didn’t tell them to fuck off,” Felipe fumed as they made their way to the truck.

Trask had been tempted. He hated being judged, hell, even when he deserved it. It got his hackles up every time. And times like this, when he didn’t deserve it, it dug under his skin even more, making his temper simmer. “What would it have solved other than drive a deeper wedge?” Dammit, he hated uncomfortable family situations, hated them with a holy passion. He slid behind the wheel and rested his head back against the seat. “And damned if I can’t see their point.”

“Don’t you fucking dare take their side.” Felipe twisted to face him. “All I asked was for them to give you a chance, not jump all over you. I don’t care about the twenty years between us. And dammit, your past has made you the man you are today. So yeah, it fucking sucked, and you put yourself in some shitty places, but you got yourself out of them too.”

Trask shook his head and started the truck. Felipe had his points, but if Trask was a dad, he was pretty sure he’d have serious reservations about a forty-year-old man hooking up with his son or daughter.

Felipe huffed out a breath and let out a few more choice oaths. His phone rang, and he ignored it. “So you said you inherited the money for the store. Who from? I thought you and your family didn’t get along.”

Trask sensed that Felipe was asking more out of a need to distract himself than curiosity, but he had to stop dodging the questions or giving only partial answers. Might as well tell all tonight. There was no reason to hold back anymore.

“My grandmother, but I had to be clean to collect on it. And man, I wanted that chance. I wanted her to see that I could build on what she left me. That I wouldn’t be like my parents. I wanted her to be proud of me. So I found myself a program, got clean, showed up back in Texas a year later with my paperwork, test results. Pissed my old man off to no end. He was hoping to contest her will and take the money for himself.” Trask sighed and scrubbed a hand through his hair.

“How long did you stay clean after that?” Felipe asked softly.

“Almost another seven months.” Trask shook his head, his hands tightening on the wheel. “Once I’d bought the place, got everything settled, inventory in stock and the initial flurry of activity was over, I convinced myself that one drink to celebrate wouldn’t hurt anybody. I could handle one damn drink. Goddamn, I was wrong.”

Trask had zero recollection of the next few nights. “All I know is that I finally came out of it several days later, naked in some damn flophouse, with a shit taste in my mouth, fresh track marks, and too many bruises.”

He glanced over to find Felipe watching him with wide, solemn eyes. “And a whole shit pile of shame and guilt?”

Trask nodded. “You nailed it, and I couldn’t face it, so I went right back to using. I couldn’t face her memory, knowing how upset it would make her if she saw me.”

Felipe caught Trask’s hand and lifted it, studying his knuckles before laying a kiss on them. “Maybe for a while, but you found the strength to fight it back again and again until you were able to say you have almost sixteen years clean. You ever think that your grandmother looked at you and didn’t see a man who kept failing but instead saw the man who kept picking himself up to wage that war again?”

Trask’s throat tightened to an unbearable ache. He’d never looked at it quite that way, but knowing his grandmother the way he had, yeah, he could see that. Felipe opened up such a wellspring in him sometimes, emotions that had been shunted aside so he could deal with the day-to-day, that the intensity of allowing himself those feelings almost physically hurt. He tugged Felipe to him. “You’re incredible, you know that?” he asked as Felipe wound his arm around Trask’s shoulder. “She would’ve loved the hell out of you.”

Blurb:

It’s no secret cosplayer Felipe Suero is looking for his happily ever after—in his love life as well as his career. He’s getting his degree so he can quit his miserable job and start his own costume business. Now he just needs to land the sexiest silver fox to ever attend a con.

Trask Briscoe’s life revolves around staying clean and sober, running the Magick Den, and attending local cons. His rules haven’t left much room for romance. But he can’t deny Felipe has caught his complete attention. He’s just not sure what he can offer a man so full of joy and sass.

When Trask finally accepts Felipe’s offer for a cup of coffee, he soon finds himself on a second date and a third. Between cosplay projects and roleplaying games, they discover a deeper connection than either of them expected. And Trask realizes that sometimes rules are made to be broken.

Now Felipe just has to convince his family—and Trask—that Trask has more love to offer than he ever dreamed.

About the Author

Marguerite Labbe loves writing stories about the beauty of love and the strength of family, whether it’s the family you’re born into or the one you create. She married her next-door neighbor and best friend, and they have one son, one dog, and two cats who rule them all. She has finally converted her Alabama born husband into being a Red Sox fan and now only needs to convince her son. She runs Apocrypha Comics Studio with her husband and they often trek off to comic book conventions on the weekend where they celebrate all manner of geek culture.

Social Media:

Author website: http://margueritelabbe.blogspot.com/

Twitter handle: @MargueriteLabbe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marguerite.labbe.3

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: A Whole Latte Sass (Geek Life #2) by Marguerite Labbe

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Felipe Suero is a cosplayer. He’s also a gamer, a costume designer, a college student, and a tollbooth operator for the state—a job he loathes. As soon as he graduates and gets a decent job he’s out of there.  In the meantime, he attends conventions, making his own highly detailed costumes, flirts outrageously, and hangs with his bestie, Morris (A Little Side of Geek). 

Trask Briscoe, silver fox, over forty, clean and sober for fifteen years, owns the Magick Den, a haven for gamers, and lives his life a day at a time, always thinking things through thoroughly before acting.  He doesn’t date but finally gives in when the much-younger Felipe continues to ask him out for coffee.  It’s turns out to be the best decision he’s ever made.

This is a May-December, very slow burn romance, complete with moments of humor and heartache.  The author handled the aspects of addiction and recovery necessary to this story beautifully, being true to the twelve-step philosophy, while showing the heartbreak of failure. And family?  Family is the heart of Felipe’s upbringing, and he still lives in an apartment he rents in his family’s sprawling complex.  He’s surrounded by his parents, grandparents, and his sister, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Trask is not so fortunate, having been raised by parents who didn’t meet the definition. 

Its difficult to even begin to cover everything this story encompasses. There’s the family of origin and the family of the heart. There’s the not-so-mismatched, older, quieter Trask dating the younger, energetic, outgoing Felipe. Trask calls him his “imp”—a perfect descriptor.  The story is fun to read and yet it’s also serious. There’s no insta-love here. Instead, there’s a slow and steady movement forward, giving each man the opportunity to not only get to know the other, but also their friends and support group, and to make a conscious decision on how each can mesh their lives with the other. 

If you are a fan of silver foxes, personable characters, age gap, slow burn, gaming, cosplaying, strong characterization, and solid writing, by all means read this story.  Check out my review of book one and add that to your list as well.  This can be read as a standalone, though reading A Little Side of Geek will make this experience so much better.  After all, Felipe did have a secondary role in that story, and having the chance to watch him find his HEA was like adding the cherry to the top of the whipped cream on the sundae.  Just yummy.  Highly recommended.

The cover by Kanaxa features a young Latino man set against a golden background.  It’s a good representation of Felipe, but would be so much better if he were wearing a costume! Nevertheless, it coordinates well with the cover of book one.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 290 pages
Expected publication: January 1st 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050088
Edition Language English
Series Geek Life #2

A Little Side of Geek

A Whole Latte Sass

Marguerite Labbe on Convention Life and her new novel, A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1) by Marguerite Labbe (author guest blog)

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A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1) by Marguerite Labbe
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Marguerite Labbe here today talking about her new release, A Little Side Of Geek, one of our highly recommended stories. Welcome, Margie!

Convention Life

Hello everyone. It’s so good to be back at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. The books in my Geek Life series follow the people who make up the comic book convention scene. I could probably write a dozen more book in this setting. Years ago, when our son was still little, my husband Keir decided that he was going to stop dreaming of making comics and commit to actually doing so. We started small, getting a table here and there as he continued his job as a social worker.

My sweet man has a degenerative heart condition and after several years we talked it over and had him quit doing the social work. The stress was too much for him and he became a full-time comic book artist and awesome stay-at-home Dad. We had been doing conventions several times a year, suddenly that became at least one a month, sometimes more. He got involved with a group called Artway Alliance run by the amazingly dedicated Eric Suggs. That allowed him to teach comic book art in various schools in the DMV area.

The two of us always said that by the time our son became an adult he’d either hate this life or be as big of a geek as us. Many weekends he was hauled out of town, stuck at a table for hours on end, hanging out with more adults than kids. One year we lost him at Awesome Con. If you’ve ever been to one of the mega cons you have an idea of how huge they are. As I was frantically going up one end of the con to the other looking for him with security I kept reminding myself that he personally knew a number of the vendors. He’d be able to find someone within a hundred yards. When we did finally find him, he looked at us like what’s the big deal.

In my books, Morris has a friend with a son like that. When he has to take a break from the table for whatever reason Jaydon will come by and guard it for him. My son got into cosplaying at the cons and now he’s old enough to be a volunteer and help out behind the scenes. He’s even a member of our podcast Role with Us so I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be a mega-geek.

It’s a fun life. You meet so many really creative, fun people. It’s also so much work and being naturally introverted it is exhausting. You have to get there early, set up your space, be on all day long, and then break it down again. If it’s a multiple day show you usually go out to dinner with your crew. There’s traveling. And all kinds of things involved. It’s funny because at work everyone seems to think I’m spending the weekend partying and wonder why I’m tired on Monday. It’s super fun, but it is work.

I haven’t done an excerpt in a bit, so how about one with Morris as he’s preparing to head out to a convention and contemplating his relationship with Theo. I hope you enjoy.

Excerpt

Morris rose and flipped on the TV, scrolling through his movie options. He put on Big Trouble in Little China. That was entertaining background noise and a movie he’d seen so often it wouldn’t pull away his attention from his work, but it would keep him from feeling lonely. When it was over, he’d text Theo.

When Morris finally finished the last of what he wanted to get done, his hand trembled and throbbed, his eyes stung with strain, and his back ached with the knots Theo had promised would end up in his muscles, but all of his projects were done. He carefully tucked away the images of Chessie, then found sleeves for the dozen new trading cards he’d sketched, inked, and colored. It was always good to have new material on the table, the quick trading cards as well as the books.

He shook his hand as he rose and stretched up on his toes, and for a moment the room spun. Morris leaned against the wall as his stomach growled and he realized how thirsty he was too. How long had it been since he’d eaten or had anything to drink? In the background, the TV droned on with the next late-night movie option.

He made his way into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water, downing the entire thing in one go. Then he pulled out a box of crackers and a can of spray cheese and munched as he considered his mostly empty fridge. He really needed to hit the grocery store on Sunday. This was pathetic.

Morris opened his freezer, looking for something to pop in his microwave, and frowned. He hadn’t realized how much food Theo had given him over the months. Instead of processed potpies, there were homemade empanadas. No more crappy but fast burritos, instead there were neatly labeled single-portion casseroles and soups. It was amoral.

Somehow, despite the plan that this was just a fling, they were beginning to blend their lives together. Morris even had his second-favorite sketch pad upstairs tucked against Theo’s couch. Scowling, he dug through the freezer until he found a frozen pizza. Maybe it wouldn’t taste as good as one of Theo’s creations, but it was the principle of the matter.

Morris ate a few more crackers and cheese while the pizza baked, pondering the problem of Theo. Cassie came into the kitchen, pausing to stretch each hind leg before coming over to Morris. He scooped her up. “Why’d you let Daddy sit all day and not eat?”

She gave him her special patented look that said quite plainly he was an idiot. “Yeah, I know. I must’ve remembered to feed you, though, or you never would’ve let me alone.” He glanced at her food and water dishes and noted they were half-full. As long as no part of the bottom of the bowl was visible beneath the kibble, Cassie was happy. But let one glint of silver show, and she was convinced Morris was starving her.

She accepted his nuzzling attention for a whole three minutes before wiggling to be let down. Morris crouched down with a sigh. “Fine, walk out on me. That’s been happening a lot today.”

He glanced at the ceiling. He couldn’t remember hearing anyone move around up there, but then again, he’d been in the zone. Lincoln could’ve broken out his sax and Morris never would’ve known.

Restless, he looked in the freezer again. The cheese and crackers weren’t cutting it. He could heat up some of Theo’s tomato basil soup; that would be done before the pizza. He hesitated and then grabbed the carton. He was too hungry to be picky over principles. It was soup, not a life decision.

By the time he finished eating the soup, his stomach was happier and the pizza was steaming on the stovetop. Gooey cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and extra-thick crust. Maybe not as good as a fresh one from Ledo’s, but it would do. As Morris cut it, he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a homemade pizza Theo would make. He bet it would be awesome, whatever it was, probably have eggplant on it and it would still be good.

Morris leaned against the counter and bit into his first slice. The roof of his mouth was instantly scalded and Morris dropped the slice, swearing as he reached for a paper towel to spit into.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Somehow, the pizza on the floor seemed like a perfect metaphor for the day.

His hand ached, his brain was short-circuiting, and he was not in a good place. Grumbling, Morris picked up the slice and tossed it into the trash, then wiped up the mess he’d made. He glared at the rest of the pizza, his appetite for junk food gone. He wanted something home-cooked and comforting. Despite getting his work done, his day had sucked. He’d been stressed and upset, replaying his argument with Theo every time he paused to think.

He missed Theo. Maybe it wasn’t too late to go upstairs and say hi. And maybe apologize. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was apologizing, because there was no way he could’ve gone off with Theo for the afternoon, but maybe he could’ve handled it better.

Morris glanced at his watch. 4:00 a.m. Yeah, definitely too late. Fuck.

He eyeballed the rest of the pizza and sighed, going back into his freezer. He was being an idiot for no reason. His stomach knew what it really wanted. Not long after, he was sitting down to hot spanakopita manicotti, yeast rolls, and a tall glass of sweet tea.

He was willingly eating spinach in the wee hours of the morning. If that didn’t say something for Theo’s influence over him, Morris didn’t know what did. But damn, it tasted good. Maybe a little change in his life wasn’t such a bad thing.

Blurb

When opposite worlds collide, it’s anyone’s game.

Proud geek and comic book artist Morris Proctor wants nothing more than to live in semiseclusion with his devil cat and gamer friends. Despite what his well-meaning family thinks, he’s perfectly content with his status quo. The last thing he needs is to date another nongeek hell-bent on changing him.

Then he meets his adorkable new neighbor, Theo Boarman, who doesn’t know Star Trek from Star Wars, but who tempts him like no other.

Theo has spent the last year recovering from the loss of his parents and trying to play both roles for his teenage brother, while working to keep the family restaurant afloat. Dating is the last thing on the menu, especially with a man who thinks the height of dining is shoving a packaged meal into the microwave.

But if Morris gives him one more shy smile or flaunts that kilt he wears so well, Theo will be forced to convince him that a hot summer fling is just the recipe to let off a little steam.

When that fling gets serious fast, Morris has to decide if he’s willing to give his heart to Theo on the chance that they’re a perfect mix.

About the Author

Marguerite Labbe has often been called both Trouble and Sunshine by those who know her. She’s not sure how she manages to make both those nicknames work together, but apparently she does. She’s a New Hampshire woman who married an Alabama man, an Air Force brat who has somehow managed to settle herself firmly in Southern Maryland, with one overgrown son and two crazy cats.

Marguerite loves to spin tales that cross genre lines, where stubborn men build lifelong ties of loyalty, friendship, and family no matter the odds thrown against them, and where love is found in unexpected places. She has won the Rainbow Award for Historical Romance with Fae Sutherland, as well as the Rainbow Award for Paranormal and the Rainbow Romance Award for Excellence, also in Paranormal.When she’s not working hard on writing new stories, she spends her time reading novels of all genres, enjoying role-playing and tabletop games with her friends, and helping out her husband with Apocrypha Comics Studio.

A Barb Release Day Review: A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life) by Marguerite Labbe

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

It amazes me how some authors can take a handful of words, craft them in a certain way, and produce a novel that can bring characters to life, evoke emotions, and leave a reader thinking about them for days afterward.

In this tale, geeky comic book artist Morris Proctor is perfectly happy living with his cat and his art. Give him some easily heated convenience food or pizza delivery and he’ll rarely need to leave his house. Except, of course, for the cons he attends—not as a gamer or cosplayer—but as an exhibitor where he sells his artwork and comic books, and commissions art and logo designs.

He’s surprised to realize one day that he’s never met his upstairs neighbor who is apparently never home. Either that or the guy is home for only the few hours Morris sleeps or spends at cons. But his cat ends that one day when she escapes and runs right into the handsome neighbor. As Morris later describes him, Theo Boarman is adorkable and he’s also a chef who runs his family’s restaurant, trying to keep to the spirit and ambience in which his parents founded it. He’s also got custody of his teenage brother—a situation that sadly came about when they lost both their parents a year ago.

Totally opposite in appearance as well as temperament, it’s hard to believe that the young, tall, black geek who wears kilts and lives in the world of comics, games, and cosplay could possibly ever get together with the young, short, white chef who doesn’t even know the difference between Marvel and DC Comics. Add to that their crazy schedules and the fact that neither wants to make any kind of commitment, and it seems impossible that these two could ultimately get together.

Marguerite Labbe takes the time to build the character of both men, using opportunities to fill in back stories cleverly, while giving us a view of current relationship-building. The men do not jump into bed together quickly, nor do they take their relationship lightly, and yet at the beginning, neither thinks of it as any more than friendship with sexual benefits.

That changes over time, however, as their lives become entwined and the ripples of their partnership extend out to include their friends and family members. Without even realizing it was happening, Morris and Theo have become a team and provide the unconditional love and support each need for completion.

An outstanding story with an outstanding cast of characters, I can’t wait to read the next in the series. Why not a full five stars? Well, there’s a quirky, seemingly out of place chapter from a secondary character’s POV that doesn’t go anywhere. It felt odd reading it and even odder afterward when it didn’t connect to any other chapters, though now that I’m at the end of the book I suspect it was intended to plant a seed for book two. There are better ways. This one pulled me from the story and left me with a big question mark hanging over my head so I just have to take off at least a quarter point.

All in all, however, and despite that, I absolutely very highly recommend this story. Gamers? Don’t miss it? Lovers of a slow burn romance? This is the one. Plus, tag it interracial, men with children, and hurt-comfort. This book has it all. It’s definitely also going on my Best of 2018 list. 

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The cover by Kanaxa is symbolic of a comic book in the background and features a photo of a young black man, with dreadlocks and eyeglasses, dressed sharply in a lightweight jacket and black pants. It’s possible the black pants are the black kilt the MC wears in the story and if so, the cover would serve as a spot-on description of Morris, the comic book artist.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 306 pages
Expected publication: May 22nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640804746
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesGeek Life #1