Thursday, August 27, 2015

Elaine Orr: Outstanding Cozy Mystery Author

Elaine Orr: Outstanding Cozy Mystery Author

Notes from Jacquie: I have been a reader of cozy mysteries for many years and am always looking for a new puzzle to unravel. After reading Ocean-Alley-Adventures,  I became a fan of both the series and the author. The boxed set, entitled Ocean-Alley-Adventures, is a trilogy which includes the first three books in the Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery series: Appraisal for Murder, Rekindling Motives, and When the Carney Comes to Town.

It was my intention to simply write a traditional review.  I soon realized to complete a serious review, I needed to discuss the very important element of writing style contained in the Jolie Gentil series.

Elaine Orr's writing follows the basic communication three c's: clear, concise, and complete. Her words are well-chosen as she builds each character and relates, when required,  the character to both the environment and other members of the cast.

She skillfully intertwines the past and present to place each story element in context.

New Jersey's fictional Ocean Alley is the stage on which multiple stories are played. Each book is a stand-alone containing a complete story. It is not necessary, to read each book in sequence because the  characters are gently re-introduced without boring redundancy.

Appraisal for Murder introduces the reader to Jolie Gentil, a somewhat fallible part time real estate appraiser. As she attempts to build a new life, after separating from her less-than-honest husband, she moves into  great-aunt Madge's Ocean Alley Bed and Breakfast. When making her very first appraisal, she finds the home owner dead in her own bed. The adventures begin as the reader unravels clues as this self-appointed sleuth searches for the murderer.

In Rekindling Motives, Jolie is appraising a historic house when she stumbles across a skeleton in an antique wardrobe. As Jolie along with friends Scoobie and Ramona gather clues in hopes of finding out who placed the skeleton in the wardrobe, a new murder occurs. They soon recognize a link between the two deaths and the search intensifies in an attempt to stave off additional deaths.

In When the Carny Comes to Town Jolie's life becomes very complex. Her friend Scoobie is attacked and seriously injured and his ex-con mother adds another level of danger to the mix. There are a murder and kidnapping that places fear in the hearts of all involved. Jolie helps unravel clues in an attempt to keep everyone safe from harm.

This series will capture the interest of teen age readers and adults alike. Students can easily story-board each plot, as a pre-writing activity, in preparation for writing their own cozy mystery.

I asked the author to share with us some helpful hints on mystery writing. Following are some excellent ideas. If any of our followers would like to ask additional questions, please add them in the comment box.

Elaine Orr discusses Mystery Writing

I grew up on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys books, and my mother introduced me to mystery writers such as Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney by the time I was eleven or twelve. It was natural for me to write what I read. There are so many kinds of mysteries. 

The Jolie Gentil series is low on gore and the murder is off stage, so to speak, putting these in the cozy category, with an amateur sleuth. Whether a writer produces detective stories, CSI-type thrillers, or cozy mysteries, when the reader finds out who did the deed, it has to make sense. It doesn't work if the murderer was barely in the book or (in one I read recently) only referred to until they showed up at the end. It's also a challenge to plant clues without having so many that the reader guesses the who in whodunit by the middle of the book. I try to keep readers guessing by implying motives for several people. Candidly, I think I do character development better than plot twists, and I do love it when a reviewer says they were guessing until the end.

Thank You Elaine Orr!

Ground to a Halt  Eighth Jolie Gentil cozy mystery

Resources for learning more about cozy mysteries:   Writing a Cozy Mystery

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Rise of Phone Reading: Link to WSJ

Notes from Jacquie: The Rise of Phone Reading by Jennifer Maloney offers authors and readers a view of current trends. The Rise of Phone Reading a Wall Street Journal Article.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Teaching Cursive The Easy Way

From Psychology Today
Notes from Jacquie
This approach to teaching cursive has been used successfully in elementary, secondary, and special education classes. a, e, i, o, and u are included in this post. Those interested in the entire alphabet may receive a free copy at  Jacquie's Lessons.

Cursive and Cognitive Development

It has been known for years that cursive is an excellent memory tool. Current research continues to support this belief. The following article regarding cursive being an important tool for cognitive development is one, among many: Psychology Today: Benefits of Cursive

Cursive in the Workforce

The critical need for students to have cursive in their knowledge toolbox became more than obvious to this author when I was working with Special Education Transition to the Workforce programs. Employer feedback was clear: students could not read notes when they were written in cursive. We did, of course, ask employers to print notes. The realization that we would not be available to support students after graduating from the program led to the addition of cursive to the curriculum. 

Whether working with one student or a class of 35, teaching cursive can be fun.


Draw two sets of solid, parallel lines about five feet long on the board
approximately 24 inches apart. Draw a dotted line midway between the
solid lines (approximately twelve (12) inches above the bottom lines).

Supply Students with lined writing paper. Handwriting paper templates available at Jacquie's Lessons

Note: Use this line formation for all letter and word demonstrations for as long
as required. When the students understand the concept of the dotted line
and can write correctly on their papers, the use of lined paper can be eliminated.