Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Two Heads are Deader Than One" by Elena Hartwell

Two Heads are Deader Than One
(Eddie Shoes Mystery Book 2)
by Elena Hartwell

Two Heads are Deader Than One is the second book in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series by Elena Hartwell. Also available: One Dead, Two to Go.

Two Heads are Deader Than One is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, and excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Private Investigator Eddie Shoes is enjoying a rare period of calm. She’s less lonely now that Chava, her card-counting mom from Vegas, is sharing her home. She also has a new companion, Franklin, a giant dog of curious ancestry.
Hoping for a lucrative new case, Eddie instead finds herself taking on a less promising client: her best friend from her childhood in Spokane. Dakota has turned up in Bellingham in jail, where she is being held on a weapons charge. Eddie reluctantly agrees not only to lend her friend money for bail but to also investigate who is stalking her. Soon after Dakota is freed, she disappears again, leaving Eddie to answer to the local cops, including her ex-boyfriend Chance Parker. Has Dakota been kidnapped? If not, why did she jump bail? What are Eddie’s business cards doing on the bodies of two murder victims?
The key to these mysteries lies in Dakota and Eddie’s shared history, which ended when Eddie left home after high school. As a person of interest in both murder cases, Eddie is forced to go in search of the truth, digging into the past and facing her own demons. Book 2 in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series.

Pulling into the lot in back, I noticed a car I didn’t recognize in the spot where I usually parked my Subaru—against the building, closest to the door. Ordinarily the lot was empty this early in the morning, but maybe Dakota had borrowed a car and was waiting for me. I parked in the row facing the side street. Despite my private, internal assurances I didn’t care one way or another whether Dakota skipped out, I’d felt let down yesterday when she didn’t show, so I hoped it was her. Had someone asked a few days ago if it mattered if I ever saw her again, “no” would have been my answer. But, now that she had resurfaced, I wanted her to be the best friend I’d loved, not the best friend I’d come to resent.
This time I locked the back door behind me, hoping Dakota was already here. Franklin ambled ahead of me down the hall but came to an abrupt halt outside the office across from mine, lying down to face the door. My office building was essentially a duplex. From where we were standing, my office was on the right and the other office was on the left, with the hall down the middle.
“What’s up, buddy?” I asked him. He was such an attentive listener I sometimes expected answers in English.
He looked at me, making no sound—English or otherwise— before putting his attention back on the door. His body was on high alert, tail flat to the floor.
“Someone in there?” I asked, apparently still expecting an answer. He uttered a short, sharp bark, proving my expectations weren’t unreasonable, except for the English part.
Was Dakota parked out back and in there now? I pulled out my cellphone and called her number, but the call went straight to voicemail.
I leaned against the door and listened. Nothing but a buzzing sound. And I got the faint whiff of a smell like someone forgot to take the garbage out. No one responded to my knock. Putting my hand on the doorknob, I discovered it was unlocked. I could just poke my head in. But what if it wasn’t Dakota, and I walked in on some guy getting his “cards read” by one of the resident hookers? That was something I did not want to see.
Before anything else, I decided to park Franklin in my office. For whatever reason, my dog had not taken to Dakota and vice versa. I also didn’t bring Franklin into a business unless animals were allowed. I could usually count on him to settle right down with his chew toy, but not today. Once we stepped into my office, he danced around in front of me, as if to block me from getting back out the door. Considering his size, he did a pretty good job.
“Franklin, I will be right back. Honest. You don’t have to worry.”
The task of getting past him was arduous. I got halfway out the door and so did he, pushing his way into the hall. It took all my upper body strength to shove him back inside. I managed to get the door closed, but heard him woofing.
That was one unhappy dog.
Opening the door to the office across the hall, I was smacked in the face by two things: the stench, which was much worse than I’d thought, and the heat. The stench was so strong, it coated my throat. The heat was so high, I started to sweat.
The room smelled like a cross between rotten meat and bodily fluids.
Death in a hothouse. What I wanted to know was whose.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"... the author does a great job of weaving details and people together making a ‘Who Dun It’ that mystery lovers will want to read!" ~ The Journey Back
"Eddie’s witty no-nonsense personality and Hartwell’s well-paced writing style make the chapters fly by. This book is a buy." ~ Readeropolis
"After thoroughly enjoying Hartwell's first introduction Eddie Shoes and her world, I was excited to read more and this second book didn't disappoint! I continue to love the characters and the settings in Bellingham. The mystery are intriguing and always keep me turning the page to learn more!" ~ Jeni Craswell

Guest Post by the Author
Which Comes First, the Plot or the Character?
The answer to the chicken or the egg question is probably the proto-chicken laid an egg and the proto-rooster fertilized it. Which then mutated and hatched as a chicken. Which mostly translates to the egg comes first, but not by much.
I would argue this question isn’t so different from asking a writer, "Which came first, the plot or the character?"
While most of us have a firm answer, if we look a little closer, I think it may be truer to say, we have a proto-character, which is then fertilized by a proto-plot, and out of that comes our manuscript.
A character changes as they experience the events of the story. We call this a character arc. They are not the same "person" they were at the beginning. But the same is typically true of our understanding of our own characters as we write and rewrite our manuscripts. We discover new things when we put our characters in difficult situations. We find out they are stronger, braver, more manipulative, more troubled, as we work with them through actions and plot twists.
When we go back and do a rewrite, we incorporate that new aspect of their personality throughout the entire story. So which came first? The plot or the character?
Then, we discover new things they can do to complicate the plot, deepen their relationships with other characters, explore new actions and events. When we go back and do another rewrite, our plot changes, becomes fuller and more complex. So now which came first? It’s not so easy to answer.
Perhaps it’s not so much which came first, but how do the two develop together.
Another way to think about this question is: where do we believe we have greater skills or what aspect speaks to our strengths?
I am much better at creating character than I am at coming up with complex plots. Knowing this about my own writing ability, I work a lot harder at plot. Writing a series, I also have a strong sense of my protagonist and the recurring characters, so as I progress into the next book, I have the opportunity to work with "people" I already know and can find out what they do in new circumstances. My proto-character is now closer to a full-blown character being fertilized by a proto-plot.
I believe I’m better at creating character, in part, because of my fascination with human behavior. People are endlessly interesting to me. I don’t necessarily want to know that many firsthand, but I certainly love to see what they will do next. The study of psychology provides insights into motivations. The study of crime and criminals gives me - a relatively law-abiding citizen - explanations for bad behavior. Observation skills help me find models of human interactions and actions day in and day out. We are basically surrounded, every day, by characters.
Murders, however, not so much. As a writer of murder mysteries, I have to be a little more creative figuring out crimes. Why one person would kill another. How they would cover it up. Where it might take place. These things are less easily seen in the real world for those of us not involved in homicide investigations or cold-blooded murders. I’m further away from personal experience building the plot of a murder mystery than I am in building a complex human being.
So my proto-plot is usually much less fully fleshed out when I begin to write that first draft. I have an idea for a crime, but I have to do a lot of research to find out how it would work in a relatively realistic telling of the story. I write a draft, then confer with experts. I write another draft, then ask more questions. I get details like how fires behave or how serious a certain type of gunshot wound would be. I mutate my proto-plot, while simultaneously fertilizing it with my fully realized character.
So now which comes first? I’ve lost track of my metaphor.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The reader shouldn’t be able to tell where the writer started their journey. The plot and character become beautifully fused through the rewriting process, as proto-character and proto-plot finally hatch as a fully-fledged manuscript.

About the Author
After twenty years in the theater, Elena Hartwell turned her dramatic skills to fiction. Her first novel, One Dead, Two to Go introduced Eddie Shoes, private eye. Called "the most fun detective since Richard Castle stumbled into the 12th precinct", by author Peter Clines, I’DTale Magazine stated, "this quirky combination of a mother-daughter reunion turned crime-fighting duo will captivate readers."
In addition to her work as a novelist, Elena teaches playwriting at Bellevue College and tours the country to lead writing workshops.
When she’s not writing or teaching, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their trio of cats, Jackson, Coal Train, and Luna, aka, "the other cat upstairs". Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, a M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Two Heads are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell (US only).