Singing School

Are you looking for a good, Christian place to send your child for a week? Maybe you want your son/nephew/boy-down-the-block to work on public speaking skills and/or learn how to lead songs in an acappella setting? Or perhaps your daughter/niece/girl-selling-cookies-at-your-door enjoys singing in choir, or is looking to learn a little bit about it before trying out for a position next school year? If you answered YES to any of these questions, then the Alva School of Music is the place for you!

Though this church camp with homework is literally right around the corner, with sign ins happening at 3 on Sunday, June 7th, there is still time to register your child. Singing School (as we affectionately call it) takes place from Sunday afternoon through Friday, culminating Friday night in choral performance put on by the female, male, and mixed choirs. The College Hill church of Christ in Alva Oklahoma hosts this event every year, even providing the next door “Bible Chair” for recreation times, giving the students a chance to challenge each other’s hand-eye coordination is rousing games of ping-pong and air hockey.

While your student is learning these useful singing and people skills, they will stay in a home provided by one of our fabulous church members, be fed breakfast and supper at their host’s house and lunch at the church building. They will be placed in ‘Huddle Groups”, which are smaller mixed groups of students that are a team for games, put on a skit for the Thursday night Talent Show (always a blast!), and provide moral support for each other as they sing and, for the boys, as they lead devotionals.

Our female choral lessons are taught by Nancy Stansberry, a beautiful soul inside and out (who just so happens to be the wife and mother of a few more super talented musicians…look up Mark Stansberry {author, musician, Oklahoma Board of Regents, etc etc etc} and Matt Stansberry and the Romance Jazz Band…and Joe Stansberry musician as well…they are a talented family!}. Nancy’s husband Mark often comes in to visit throughout the week, as well as performing in the Talent Show with her. They also usually perform a song or two with Chris Johnson and Drew Broussard, our two male choral leaders (they often split the group into upper and lower ages for learning to lead singing). Chris is a counselor, missionary, and musician while Drew is a musician, missionary, and teacher. They all love to help students grow and learn to be their best.

Our 3 teachers are fun, hard working, and loving individuals who help make this week memorable for all involved! Holding it all together are teacher/principal Doug Gunselman, and minister/teacher/author/collegeminister/time keeper Dr. Wilson Jay Tyree (who also performs a diddy or two, usually randomly throughout the week!).

Singing School has provided countless hours of fun and singing for dozens upon dozens of 10-18 year old students and your loved one could be next! SO HURRY! Don’t pass this opportunity up! The first full week of June only comes around once a year! Throw in some ping-pong, an afternoon of water play, and life long friendships and you’ve got the Alva Singing School!

Singing Tomes

As I may have mentioned once or twice recently, this week has been a big one in our household…as well as in Tyree Tomes.

Not only has Dr. Tyree given away another whoppingly large number of his kindle books (check out Paul on Paul, giveaway ends tonight); I have given away three paperback copies of my first book and, so far, have gotten rave reviews from the target audience.

Even though I haven’t had much time to write (read..none) and even though Dr. Tyree’s current w.i.p. is faring a similar fate this week, there has been much discussion of books, stories, and most importantly, what lies behind them.

Perhaps even more importantly than that (can I have something more important than the most important? Is there a word for that? I digress…) We have been privileged to spend time at home with some amazing girls, share dinner with an added great group of guys and a few instructors, and be part of a wonderful work for the church and for God. You see, Singing School may be touted as something that teaches men how to lead singing and everyone how to read the notes and follow the song leader, but what really happens is a great church camp atmosphere in which our members open up their doors and become an extended family for the students. For their part, the students spend a week singing songs and having devotionals that bring them closer to God and to each other.

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One of our amazing men’s directors, Chris does a great job with teaching music AND with presenting devotionals that engage and delight his audience, keeping them learning and growing in Christ while he’s at it.

I was honored this year to be able to house a good friend of mine’s daughter, who just turned old enough to have her first year with us. I went to the Alva School of Music with her father and his friends (by the way, they are still goofy as all get out!) and it has been an odd and wonderful experience to watch her learning to be here and even helping other friends adjust to being here this week.

My other girls have shown me different sides of camp, of life, and of silliness…like they’re all a different side of the gaming dice and I’m a roll away from either unlimited healing or unmitigated disaster.

I have said all of that long windedness to say this…No, we haven’t written much this week. Yes, I will be scrambling tomorrow to try to get a short story written in time to complete my weekly challenge. Yes, we are all exhausted. But though Tyree Tomes doesn’t really have anything to show for this week, we have been honored, humbled, and touched several times a day…and that is worth more than all of the royalties and recognition that even someone like J.K. Rowling would have.

I hope you all have a Blessed Weekend! I’m off to start getting things ready for tonight…the big choral performance is this evening and there’s no way to get all 7 women and the one poor guy ready on time unless I start 6 hours early!

Thrilling Thursday

Ok, so the title might be a little bit of an exaggeration. I am thrilled because I have an interview this afternoon and have been busy getting myself and my Monkey ready to go all morning (it’s an hour’s drive from home). However, the not so thrilling part is that I don’t have much time to really dig in to a new post for the day. Soooo…I’m leaving you with another excerpt of my NaNoWriMo piece…which I used to win Camp NaNoWriMo yesterday afternoon. (My goal was 30k and I reached a little over 32K! Thrilling, right?)

Here is your final ‘April’ excerpt from Dragons in the Sea:

Chapter 33:

“So here’s something I don’t normally say to people,” Jane juggled the shipboard phone as she poured herself a glass of tea, “These symbols and etchings on the railings seem too organized and in line. They are as straight and true as they would be if a machine had carved the glyphs before the boat was built! I think there’s more to this than just superstitions. Whoever did this was intent on perfection.”

“Maybe it was just an obsessive pirate,” Brandon couldn’t hide the smirk in his voice as he smiled over the phone. “You aren’t the only super neat person around you know.”

“Oh stop mocking me,” Jane sighed in exasperation, “I’m serious! I’ve been staring at these pictures for hours now and while we have come up with a few suitable translations to add to Nickel’s work, the one thing that strikes me the most is how amazingly neat it all is. Especially for a ship that sank sometime in the mid-1500s. Over five hundred years underwater and the etchings are still crisp and sharp and clean, no algae, no coral, no seaweed, and no aquatic renters taking over the space. There isn’t even a hole anywhere that might lead us to believe that the ship SHOULD have sunk. There is something else at play here.”

“Maybe it’s the dragons,” Brandon pointed out. “Grandmother and the boys produced lightening and electronic malfunctions for years before you and Anna went to awaken them. Aliphonsore was rarely worn because he ‘creeped’ out his owners by feeling like he was ‘vibrating’ as soon as they put him on, everyone remembers their lives as a statue. Oh, and remember what the legend says about the statues? That’s probably at least part of the reason behind the glyphs in the first place.”

“What legend,” Jane asked softly. “Did someone find something that we don’t know about yet?”

“Oh,” Brandon paused to look in wide eyed helplessness at the retreating crew around him. “Polly” he mouthed desperately as she shook her head and disappeared into the kitchen with Chris.

“Polly?” Jane asked, motioning Anna to come listen to the conversation, “Did Polly find something?”

“hmm, Oh yes, Polly.” Brandon stumbled, “Yes she was doing some research on dragons mentioned in Spanish legends from the era, found out who the king would have been, followed bread know how it is.”

“Brandon!” Anna and Jane’s sharp reprisal made the older jump and scramble like a guilty school boy.


Updates and Promotion

I did manage to write somewhere around 5,000 words last week, leaving myself 10,000 to sclepp through in the final few days.

While I work on finishing up this first draft…or at least getting my minimum word count in (because I don’t think I’m anywhere near the end of the book yet!) why don’t you relax and go back to the beginning with my first book Dragon on My Neck, which will be free for e-reader download Sunday, April 27th thru Tuesday April 30th.

I want to thank everyone for their support and understanding during Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I have gotten a lot of work done, though not necessarily in the area I was looking to work in! Here is an excerpt from last week’s work,


Chapter 30:

“See, I can control my own diet,”” Jonsturney announced snottily, the almost constant joked about his food intake finally taking their toll on his usually happy personality. “Mm, Mm, Mm, Saladation.”

“Saladation?” Polly repeated, looking up from her own lunch/study session and trying not to smirk at the still growing dragon teen.

“Yes, Salad-ation,” Jon confirmed with a sassy head wag at his friend. “You know, like validation but with lettuce. Yummy, water filled, healthy lettuce.”

“I’m very proud of you,” Polly smiled and offered up half of her dessert, “Would you like a little chocolate to celebrate your salad?”

“Yes…wait,” Jon pursed his dragon lips and allowed his eyelids to droop a little as he thought it out. “No, I want some fruit for dessert, but thank you.”

“Wow,” Polly tossed him a container of blueberries before returning to her pile of dust smeared and leather bound volumes. Absentmindedly eating her own slices of fruit between page flips, Polly was concentrating so hard on the fading words that she didn’t realize Jon was looking over her shoulder until ten minutes later, when he spoke again.

“What ya doin?” The mostly forgotten fruit soared in all directions as the mercifully paper plate hit the floor.

“DO NOT DO THAT TO ME!” Polly carefully pronounced each word as she rushed to wipe juice from the book she had been reading.

“Sorry, I was just asking,” Jon shrugged his shoulders and started to lumber back to his pillow couch.

“I’m sorry Jon,” Polly, who clearly remembered the first time she had ever seen the large dragon, dressed in a bright sweater and pretending to be a lizard, had a soft spot for Jon and quickly went to rub the third spike from the front of his head (his favorite spot). “I was just doing some research into old Spanish beliefs, myths, and legends. I thought I might be able to find something on your family…and I may have.”

“Really??” Jon leapt up, hit his head on the ceiling fan, knocked Polly over, and broke a glass shelf. “Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t get so excited in here.” He looked around sheepishly, “But maybe I should find a broom my size.”


“I have one ordered for you,” Sir Brandon assured as he walked in the door and surveyed the mess Jon had just made. “Now then, what’s all this ruckus about? We heard you out on the tennis courts.”

“Salad,” Polly kept a straight face as a piece of blueberry soaked lettuce dropped from the fan and onto Sir Brandon’s white shirt.

“Salad,” Brandon sighed, “Why do I have the feeling that there’s more to it?”

“Because Polly is an exceptionally poor fibber?” Broyli guessed, stepping around more of the scattered fruit and snatching up a book from the pile. “Looks to me as if she’s taking some of her time off to do a little research.” He waved the stained and cracked spine toward the girl, “So the real question here is what did you find?”

“I found something that might explain why a king would remove valuable and mythic statuary from his castle, send said statuary overseas on a pirate ship covered in mystical ancient runes, and never mention it in anything ever again.” Polly smiled at the bemused expressions on her friends’ faces. “However, I’m not completely sure yet if that is the case. I could have just found some old recipe for tartar sauce.”

“Tartar sauce??!?!”

“Ok, so probably not tartar sauce,” Polly laughed, “Right now all I know for sure is that the story involves a rather large stone statue that I’m pretty sure will turn out to be of a familiar dragon family’s parents. Jon interrupted me before I could get much further than that.”

Saturday Updates and Excerpts


Between articles, blogs, and Camp I’ve written around 6,000 words this week. Though not nearly as much as I was hoping for, I think that’s pretty respectable. However, for as much time as I spend writing, I need to amp it up a lot more and stop trolling Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest when I should be boosting my count (Seriously though, I find cool stuff so you should probably follow me on all 3! 😀 )

Though I didn’t quite get caught up on my Camp project, I did manage to bring down my minimum daily word count from 1700 to 1400. I may be able to handle that…Wait, I CAN HANDLE THAT! Now that I’ve brought you up to speed on my woeful inability to complete all of this week’s goals *sigh…bigsigh* I will leave you with something that makes me proud of what little I did accomplish last week…an excerpt from Dragons in the Deep.

Chapter 28:

“Excuse me sir,” Julie mumbled, shuffling across the cabin’s floor to whisper into Flynn’s general direction, “I have a message from Mr. Janxson for Mr. Ferdinand.”

“So give it to him,” Flynn shrugged and jerked his head toward the computer station, where Anna, Jane, and Ferdinand were gathered around Nickel as she showed off her hard work.

“I-I don’t feel comfortable with telling him this,” She whispered even more quietly, “Maybe you should do it.”

“What?” Flynn looked up from his own stack of papers and filed with a look of bewildered frustration etched across his features. “What are you talking about? Old Man Janxson probably just wants to make sure we’re being nice to his friends and thinks I’ll lie to him.”

“No sir, Mr. Janxson had me write down a very specific message about Mr. Ferdinand’s wife,” Julie was almost not making any noise at this point, so worried and embarrassed by the message that she seemed about to pass out from the anxiety of it all. “I just don’t feel right giving it to him though.”

“Julie,” Flynn spoke calmly and clearly, sometimes Julie’s anxieties made her a little stubborn and hard of hearing, “If Mr. Janxson wanted Ferdinand to get the message, it must be very important, right?” she nodded so he continued, “And Mr. Janxson entrusted this message to your care, right?”

“Only because no one else answered the line, sir.”

“But if he didn’t think you could handle, he wouldn’t have given you the task, would he?”
“I guess not.” Her voice wavered but she straightened her back with determination, “I’ll go give it to him right now.” She stopped mid turn to add, “But don’t expect me to wait on him to read it!”

Shaking his head at her obvious issues, but allowing curiosity to get the better of him, Flynn watched the ship’s steward scurry across the room, tap Ferdinand on the shoulder, hand him a piece of paper, and without saying a word, turn tail and race back out of the cabin.

“I wonder what that was all about,” Jane turned inquisitive eyes to the folded sheet in the Fairy King’s hands.

To Be Continued…


Wednesday Writing

I did warn you about Camp NaNoWriMo Month didn’t I? I haven’t had much time to read anything other than research so far this month. I did learn some interesting techniques for getting rid of heartburn at home. Did you know that chewing gum is supposed to help? So is licorice…very interesting.

If you want to read my articles, including one (hopefully) soon on home heartburn remedies, you can find my contributor’s profile here. Since I have 4 articles due this week and 7500 NaNo words just to catch up today, I don’t foresee this week being much better on the reading front.

So please, thrill me with vicarious reading experiences. What are YOU reading? Are you loving it? Is this a new author or new book for you? I would love to hear from you all!

My pitiful eclipse moon picture

my pitiful eclipse picture. Enjoy!

And if you are like me and feverishly working to write your count this week, tell me that too! What are you writing about? Leave a favorite sentence or two and get us fired up about your piece!