The Time Has Finally Arrived!

This is an awesome day for me. MARRED is available for pre-release! I can hardly believe it’s happening. Anyone who’s traveled this lonely, often heartbreaking, road toward traditional publishing can attest that it’s an emotional roller coaster. But now the time has come! MARRED hit the virtual shelf last night!!! And guess what else? An excerpt made it into Murder, USA — and it’s the first excerpt of the anthology, too! Wooooot!!!!!! (Sorry about all the exclamation points; it’s just so damn exciting.)

Check out the cover…Marred_by_Sue_Coletta-500

That tiny writing on the bottom says, “A brilliant and compelling journey through the dark streets of a woman’s worst nightmare.” ~ Caleb Pirtle, author of Secrets of the Dead

Here’s the blurb…

When a serial killer breaks into the home of bestselling author, Sage Quintano, she barely escapes with her life. Her husband, Niko, a homicide detective, insists they move to rural New Hampshire, where he accepts a position as Grafton County Sheriff. Sage buries secrets from that night—secrets she swears to take to her deathbed.

Three years of anguish and painful memories pass, and a grisly murder case lands on Niko’s desk. A strange caller begins tormenting Sage—she can’t outrun the past.

When Sage’s twin sister suddenly goes missing, Sage searches Niko’s case files and discovers similarities to the Boston killer. A sadistic psychopath is preying on innocent women, marring their bodies in unspeakable ways. And now, he has her sister.

Cryptic clues. Hidden messages. Is the killer hinting at his identity? Or is he trying to lure Sage into a deadly trap to end his reign of terror with a matching set of corpses?

And here’s an author blurb from someone I greatly admire, which makes it all that more awesome…

Want a taste? Okay, you twisted my arm.

Chapter One

Monday, July 17, 2006

1:30 p.m.

I used to believe people were inherently good, if only at their core. I saw the brokenness of the homeless. I respected the overachiever in the football star hoping for Daddy’s approval even if he’d never get it. I saw the heart of sinners, the souls of lovers. Shattered dreams of an abandoned child. I saw good in evil, spirit in the unholy. I understood the complexities of love, marriage, life. Hell, I welcomed the challenge. I had hopes, dreams and affirmations. I did.

Then, that all changed. My views shattered, or my eyes finally opened.

That’s what Niko said, though devastation also filled his eyes. No longer did he think of me as his optimistic wife who loved life. I missed our blissful marriage. I missed our baby. I missed my blindfold. If only I could put it back on. Most of all, I missed…me.

Living on autopilot was the only way I could survive.

After my third shower of the day, I hobbled down the stairs, clutching a load of laundry. White-hot pain shot to my right knee and folded me in half. The basket of clothes tumbled to the floor—socks, T-shirts, jeans, shorts, and Niko’s sheriff’s uniform strewn about the living room.

I fell back against the stairs, twined my arms around the railing, and stared at the white lines on my forearms. I straightened, and a thick scar on my jugular tugged at the skin. After three never-ending years, hours and hours of counseling, one small reminder—scars from the knife—and I relived that night in Boston.

The phone startled me when it rang.

I didn’t want to answer, but for the Sheriff’s wife that wasn’t an option. “Hello?”

“Who’s this?” A man’s voice, distorted, disguised.

“Who’s this? You called me.”

“I think I have the wrong number.”

A dial tone sounded.

That was weird. I shrugged it off and reloaded the clothes in the basket. When I headed down the hall, the phone rang a second time. I’d had it with this guy. “Hello,” I answered, firm and harsh.

“Sheriff Quintano, please.” Same voice.

“Didn’t you just call here?”

“Sheriff Quintano, please.”

“He’s not home. He’s at work. Who is this?”

The line went dead.

“Jerk!” I slammed the handset in the cradle, and a chill sheathed my arms in goose bumps. I’d announced to a stranger that I was alone in the house.

The cordless phone’s musical trill resonated through the hall. Ruger and Colt jolted to their paws and took notice. I winced, not wanting to answer.

Third ring.

I rushed over. “I told you he’s not home. What do you want? Why are you calling back?”

“Do you want to live forever?”

A cold sweat broke across my back. “What’d you say?” This cannot be happening. Not again. Unless…evil followed us here.

“Do you want to live forever?”

He found me. How? We were so careful. Niko and I hadn’t left a forwarding address. Our phone number wasn’t listed in the book. Neighbors asked where we were moving, and we refused to disclose any details. If questioned, I said north and left it at that. We escaped clean and faded into obscurity. Yet, he called.

I dropped the handset in the cradle, disconnecting from the past.

Adrenaline masked my pain, and I sprinted from room to room, closed and secured all the windows and double-checked the locks on the front and back doors, bolted upstairs, and pressed my foot on the sliders’ security bar. Colt and Ruger watched me zip around the house, not knowing what was wrong. Ruger gave up and laid his head on crossed paws while Colt bounded over and stayed on my heels.

When I returned to the kitchen table, the phone rang again. My gaze locked on the handset, and I froze. Colt’s face ping-ponged between me and the phone. He put the pieces together in his mind, trotted over, and knocked the receiver off the cradle, gently clasped the handset in his lips and carried it to me. By using his training to aid me, he was trying to help, but at that moment, it was the last thing I wanted him to do.

I didn’t speak.

The man panted like Ruger after an exhausting game of fetch. I slapped a hand over my mouth and held back screams, refusing to give him the satisfaction of terrifying me. I also couldn’t hang up. His breath held me hostage. My fingers lost feeling around the handset, knuckles white from lack of blood flow. Unable to move, I was in his thrall.

“Do you want to live forever?”

I gaped left, right. He could be outside my home hiding in the bushes. If I didn’t respond, he might come inside. Perhaps he’d stalked me for days, weeks, months. Maybe he’d always been here. Out of reach, in the shadows. Watching. Waiting. Planning.

Why, oh, why was this happening again?

Razor-sharp pain shot to my right knee, ribs, arms, and stomach, his haunting question conjuring the injuries from the fateful night. I cringed. “What do you want?”

His demon-like cackle shot through my core like a poison-tipped arrow.

If only Niko had killed him that night…if his guts had splattered my living room walls, dousing me in his death…if he’d taken his last breath and his evil soul plummeted to hell…perhaps then I could breathe without his ghostly fingers around my throat.

How did he survive?

Niko had emerged outside the sliders and shot through one of the doors. The bullet struck the masked man in the shoulder. Glass shattered everywhere. The dogs barreled inside and over to me, whimpering, licking the blood off my face. They were so preoccupied with tending to my wounds; the intruder got a shot off before he fell.

The bullet struck Niko in the shoulder, and he flew backward and landed in the garden I’d made around the apple tree. It had taken me days to edge the garden in slanted bricks. When Niko fell, those bricks drove into his spine and incapacitated him long enough for the assailant to scramble to his feet and flee.

But not before he hovered over me and offered one last warning. “I’ll see you soon, Sage Quintano.”

That night he cackled too, as though he foresaw this day. After the attack, I hid for weeks, months. I lost track of how long I made myself a prisoner in my home. January slowed my heart rhythm to a manageable pace. Niko said that was when I healed. Not true. I’d never be the same. He’d stolen my child, my soul, my very being. The person I once was—outgoing, funny, adventurous—no longer existed. With his wrath and venomous, malevolent acts, he’d marred me for life.

For that, he should pay.

Deep in his throat, he chortled, sounding like the devil incarnate.

I bolted into the living room. In the corner by the sofa a grandfather clock ticked, slow and loud like a dying patient’s heartbeat. Disconnected from my tormentor, I thumbed the button for a dial tone. Niko’s cell rang twice before I hung up. Because I hadn’t shared the intimate details of the assault, if I explained how I knew this was the same man, there would be questions. Lots of questions. Questions I was unwilling to answer. If my husband heard the truth, he might leave.

I was trapped. Perfect prey. Nowhere to run; no place left to hide.


Two hours later, I was searching through old records. The moving van we’d rented in Boston, utility shut-off notices, a letter I wrote to the Boston Herald to stop the newspaper—every receipt from the weeks before the move to see if Niko or I had mistakenly given out our new address.

I found nothing.

A hospital bill caught my eye as I loaded the papers back in the box. In the corner of the bill was our phone number. This number. The woman in the billing department had demanded a way to contact us, and as I recovered at home, I overheard Niko rattle off the digits.

He glanced at me and mouthed, “It’s fine. Don’t worry.”

Only now, it wasn’t fine. This was how he’d found us. Found me.

Someone knocked at the front door, and Colt and Ruger howled. I whirled around, my heart sinking in my chest.

Read the rest of Chapter One.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@SueColetta1″]Like crime thrillers? Read a creepy excerpt of Marred.[/tweetthis]

So how do you get in on the pre-release sale? Easy. Here are the links I have so far (more will be added as they become available, like Kobo, Apple, Nook)…

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Tirgearr Publishing

The sale price only lasts until the release date, so get your copy today. Or, heck, buy two. Gift cards make great stocking-stuffers (*awkward smile* Too much?). Print versions will become available sometime next year. I’ll blog about it when the time comes. Now I’m off to add Marred to my Goodreads widget and update my Amazon author page. This is so much fun!

Next up: Crime Writer Boot Camp: Jurisdiction – Part II

Hope your day is as awesome as mine!


About Sue Coletta

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is the bestselling, award-winning author of psychological thrillers and mysteries. OOTG Flash Fiction Offensive magazine published her flash fiction and her short stories are published in numerous anthologies and collections. InSinC Quarterly featured her forensic articles about Radiocarbon Dating and Skeletal Differences. In 2017, Feedspot awarded her Murder Blog as one of the Top 50 Crime Blogs on the net. Sue's also the communications manager for Forensic Science and the Serial Killer Project. As a way to help fellow crime writers, Sue created a team of crime experts (detectives, coroners, police captains, etc.) and founded #ACrimeChat on Twitter. She's also a proud member of the Kill Zone, where she blogs every other Monday.


  1. Oh, and I pre-ordered and will review ASAP. I know how good it is already!
    Sherry Howard recently posted…My Writing Process Blog TourMy Profile

    • You did? You’re so sweet! Actually, a lot has changed since you read the story. Not the bones, but the scenes have been tweaked and tweaked and tweaked. I’m thrilled you’re willing to read it again. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful cover! And I love the look of your page. Congratulations on this exciting development in your publishing!!!!

  3. Congrats, Sue!!
    Traci Kenworth recently posted…Reading Links…9/23/15My Profile

  4. Wow! That cover totally rocks! So excited for you, Sue, and the book sounds absolutely awesome. I pre-ordered my copy. Super congrats and go crazy with the exclamation points!!! 😀

  5. So excited for you. Can’t wait to start reading it.

  6. Wooooot!!! I’m so happy for you 😀

    Congrats and well done! An awesome accomplishment indeed. Now, onward to read the book 🙂
    Nicholas C. Rossis recently posted…Of Bitter Orange Behinds and Swedish BeardsMy Profile

  7. Huge congratulations! I love the cover. Creepy and eery. Brilliant. Have a great day celebrating today. You deserve it 🙂
    Rebecca Bradley recently posted…Cover Reveal – #CaptchaThief by Amy LaneMy Profile

  8. Well done Sue, I can understand the woo woos and exclamation marks although if it was me there would be quite a lot of expletives in the excitement. You must be over the moon and judging by the quality of your excerpt, quite justified in it being in print.Congratulations,Martin

  9. I actually read this first chapter on your old site, but now it sounds even better 🙂
    JazzFeathers recently posted…Thursday Quotables – DragonFlyMy Profile

    • Thanks, Sarah. Yup, I revised this a few times since then. Add to that a good editor and voila! That’s one of the huge benefits of sticking with the traditional path, as I’m sure you know. My editor, Sharon, is awesome. I learned a lot from her. <-Post on that coming soon. 🙂

  10. Woot Woot! Just read your blog post about Marred Sue! HUGE congratulations, I know Mom and Jaqui are beaming down on their girl! Love you! I need to wait for the hard copy so I can get it signed, even if I am too scared to actually read it, ha ha! Love you sweetie, your blood, sweat and tears is finally paying off! P.S. I can share this right?! ?

    • Absolutely, Rob! Share away. I’ve been “talking” to Mom and Jacqui and Dad…because I can feel them around me. I’m sure they’re pumped to finally see my dream come true. Love you back. XO

  11. OMG! I’m so excited for you, Sue! Congratulations! I so need to read this to find out what happens. That first chapter is awesome! 🙂
    Amy Valentini recently posted…Happy Release Day to my fab client, Susan Fisher-Davis!My Profile

  12. Congratulations! Best of luck with it – sounds terrifying! 🙂

  13. Congratulations on your new release, Sue! Much success!

  14. Congratulations! I hope is the first of many books in what will be a long and exciting writing career.

    • Thank you, Robin! BTW, somehow I lost ALL of the blogs I was following. I think it happened when I switched email addresses, but it took me a while to realize. Anyway, I’m slowly replenishing the stock and Write On, Sister! is top of my list. See you there!

  15. I’m so, so happy for you, Sue. Your Wooots just broke my window and I think I can hear the band. I LOVE the cover! Perfect! And I can’t wait to read – from the peek I’ve had it’s 5 Stars across and 2 thumbs up 🙂
    Garry Rodgers recently posted…FORENSIC BLOODSTAIN PATTERN ANALYSISMy Profile

  16. Hi Sue

    Just downloaded Marred from Smashwords. Can’t wait to read it. Chapter 1 is amazing!!

    Soooo excited for you.

  17. Dear Sue,

    I am thrilled that your book “Marred” is finally coming out. I had read an excerpt from it ages ago, and was dying for this moment – or rather November 11.

    I’ve just pre-paid for the book. I can’t wait! You are such a good writer.



  18. Congrats! The exclamation marks are fully justified 😉
    That excerpt is so tense and gripping – a great opening scene.
    Deborah Jay recently posted…Results from my #KDP #Countdown #Sale for DESPRITE MEASURESMy Profile

  19. WOW, Sue. I am so so so happy for you. This is very exciting. The cover art is FABULOUS. I love it. Good for you, CP. You hung in there and you got the job done. I couldn’t be more proud if it were my own book.

    It’s motivating me to get off my depressed duff and start sending out to publishers like you did.

    Big congratulating hugs. You so richly deserve this. I can’t wait to order a copy for my I-pad.


  20. Your cover is stunning and I can’t wait to read more of MARRED. Congratulations and hugs and love and high-fives and marching bands and champagne and cartwheels from Colorado!

    • Thank you, Eliza! Designing it was SO much fun. I can’t wait to do another. I’m searching the sky, waiting for that champagne. 🙂 Oh, wait, I think I hear the band. Yay!

  21. I couldn’t possibly be happier for you, Sue!!!!! Yay!!! Congratulations!
    Margot Kinberg recently posted…Out in the Country 😉My Profile

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