Week 12 - Journey to Book Two

Hi everybody!

Hit the ground running this week (kind of literally) - I'm officially on the last chapter of Act Two, which, self-admittedly... is a huge milestone because this has been, without a doubt, the hardest act to write... Hell, I knew it would be months and months ago back when I was tossing and turning at night thinking aggressively about it... saying over and over in my head, "I gotta try and do that!?"

But, hey... I took that challenge head on and the result?

I can honestly say that the risk was WELL worth the reward. You'll see what I mean in June. ;)

In essence, I wrote 30+ pages this week, which means I had over 12k words slain - I also plotted a few threads for the week ahead, just to make sure I don't hit any "walls" (I'd probably just break them with my stubbornness anyways). I also ran 24 miles too. I've been reading a book that a good friend of mine gave to me as a gift (thanks, Ashton) entitled, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by inspiring author, Haruki Murakami.

Probably one of the more thoughtful gifts I've received in my life because it's EXACTLY what I need to be reading right now for so many different reasons. This last stretch feels like a marathon in terms of the work that's ahead of me in such a short amount of time. I'm human and I think about the stupid, "what if's" just like anyone else... but, I don't know.

I know this will undeniably sound corny or cliché... and in the words of Pam from my favorite television series The Office, "I know it's cliché to say it's cliché" but... lately, I just feel like I can really do anything. It's a weird confidence. One that I'm trying to balance with taking care of all the people in my life too. I feel like if I'm not giving everything I have to a day - that day is just shit and going to waste. Blunt, but true.

I just want to keep going right now. I know something awesome will happen if I do, so... that's motivation enough. I'll be stabbing the final Act of Book Two this week (Act 3) and that's getting me excited just thinking about it! Finish line is definitely starting to become less fogged.

Anyways, I've rambled enough. Until next week.

-KL

Week 10 - Journey to Book Two

Does that really say Week TEN!? Wow... here we are - and hey, everybody. Sorry for the less than traditional introduction here. And yet, given the fact that we're unloading into the double digits of Book Two development here - maybe it's time I break the norm a little bit.

I'm about to fly to California for about a week to see the place I grew up in. I haven't been back since November 2016, which might not seem like a long time - but to me, it felt a lot longer than that. Honestly, knowing that I had this trip planned has been part of what has been fueling my writing lately.

...not that my writing "needs" fuel. Because it doesn't, let me make that perfectly clear, haha! I very much recognize this window and time of my life and that's enough motivation in the world to get these veins waking up each morning to attack-mode. Still, I'm a huge believer in balance. I know, original, right? But without filling up on life for a while, I know I can't write to 100 percent of my capability.

That's why this trip to California is extra important to me. It's not just the fact that I'm going to be having fun and a break for a couple of days - but that everything I siphon... well, it's going to fill me up with the EXACT energy I need to make it to the finish line of Book Two by June 2017.

"You're going to write an entire book in half a year." - Me

It's been exhausting, but not to the point where I ever feel like I can't do it.

That thought... Maybe it's experience. Confidence. Both? I don't know, man. It just doesn't enter my mind anymore (ohhh it used to). I think, one day, I'll look back on this time of my life as the moment of pure self discipline/sacrifice that opened the doors. That sounds like some stupid movie quote, but it's really not. It's just how I feel about things.

About all of THIS. Despite no proof, or riddled fortune cookie, I know that this is all leading somewhere wonderful. It's taken a while for me to believe that, but a lot has happened... and I'm at the point right now where everything that's behind me is... well, ACTUALLY pushing me forward - and that's a very, very, genuine and beautiful feeling.

Because I know I'm using it. Every damn day, I'm using that feeling so that one day, I can maybe spread that to anyone else out there that's trying to "open that door" too.

Not trying to sound like a role model or something, it's just how I think humans should freaking be... You don't use your passion for yourself, pal. You use it so you can help other people. And that's why making this Book the staple to opening the road ahead is so important to me... I know that if people just SEE it, then I'll have an opportunity to help on a wider scale and through a different array of mediums.

That's something I can't control... but, it's the reason I'm waking up each day on a mission. 10 weeks in and everything is beautiful. Going to enjoy this break, but don't blink for a second once I get back. I know I probably won't.

-Kyle

 

Week 9 - Journey to Book Two

Well, hello all you beautiful, beautiful people,

I'm officially halfway done with Act Two, which is hard to believe considering I started the damn thing less than two weeks ago. That sounded aggressive.

Really though, I knew long back when I was building the outline for Book Two that THIS section of the story would be the most challenging to write for so many reasons - reasons that, for the sake of not wanting to spoil anything, I simply won't dive into right now. So, the fact that it's been flowing so well and I'm already at this point... feels amazing.

Fun Fact: I purposely put more questions than answers in Book One because I knew it would make the process of the reader 'finding' these answers out for themselves that much more enjoyable and rewarding. Book Two, rest assured, will accomplish exactly that - I mean, it won't answer EVERYTHING (there are seven books to the series as a whole, after all), but I can honestly say that the burning "what the hell does this mean" stuff will be gradually unveiled along Kyle Lionheart's next stage of adventure. For him, and all of the incredible characters attached to the story/universe itself.

It's April now (no fooling, horrible joke) which means Summer is right around the corner. Which means Book Two is right around the corner.... Which means chasing being published is right around the corner..... Which means - deep breath - soooooooooooOoooooO many of the things I've been staring up at the ceiling thinking about ever since I was a kid with a stupid dream each night...

Well, that's ALL right in front of me.

All that said... I'm embracing what's ahead and taking it one day and page at a time. Like I've said from the very beginning, "It's the journey, not the destination" I'm after. Having said that, I am confident. I am prepared. And I am going to give all of me until there's nothing left to make sure that every sacrifice I've made to getting to this point of my life WILL be worth it.

Those are facts.

Until then, I've got to keep my gas tank on F and siphon inspiration in the form of all the promises I've made over the years that I would 'do this' and 'be somebody' out of it. As always, the support, kind messages, and silent cheering from everybody back home is giving me all the inspiration I need - I'm truly fortunate in that department. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate every shred of belief people seem to have in me for writing and you guys are the reason I do this - I think if you have something you're good at in life, you should use it to help as many people as possible.

So, to everyone else out there that's got something they love to do... please, for the love of everything, keep going with it - will ya? You're a lot more awesome than you think. And the world needs awesome.

-Kyle

Week 8 - Journey to Book Two

Hey everybody!

Couldn't be happier right now with just about everything. I'll be honest, I wrote a LOT more than I'm used to writing this week (the first 3 chapters of Act Two) so, having said that... I'm probably going to keep this week's blog a little bit on the 'shorter' side.

But, wow. All that aside, humble brag incredibly proud of where things are at right now. Tackling the first three chapters of Act Two gave me an incredible amount of momentum for the road ahead. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to keep up with the pace I created for myself these next couple of weeks. And yet, so far, I'm exactly on target for having Act Two done by the time I fly home to California next month.

Of course, I'm not blind. These chapters aren't "perfect" - there's the whole editing stage, sprinkling pretty things all over it, tedious item #4, yada yada yada... you get the idea. BUT. That's the easy part, To me, at least. Once I throw the words on the page, I can form the specks into something pretty neat - I'd like to think. It's just GETTING THEM THERE that's the hardest part.

The last thing I wanted to mention is how excited I am about writing/continuing to write Act Two in general. When I first had the idea for where I wanted the story to go at this point of the series, I honestly thought, "Wow, that's a really neat concept, but there's no way in hell Kyle you're going to be able to pull that off."

I think I am. Piece by piece, day by day. And I've got a hell of a long way to go. But my energy is high, the well of motivation/inspiration hasn't been drained an inch... and I'm ready to go into next week and knock another 3 out.

Damn it, I didn't keep this on the shorter side.

-Kyle

Week 7 - Journey to Book Two

Hey everybody!

Well, it's done - not Book Two (obviously), but rather, Act One itself. Of course, there's the inevitable, "Going back and making it a little more pretty" stage that I'll be going through right before releasing the book... still, for now, I can turn my back to it. And start focusing on the monster of Act Two that's ahead.

Whew.

Believe it or not, last night was actually the first time I looked at how many pages I had written in totality. I sorta 'promised' myself that I wouldn't be tempted to look until I made it through Act One and man... I'm exactly where I want to be pace-wise right now.

I can't really stand on celebrations for Act One very long because well... I'm jumping into Act Two Monday. And THAT will be something else entirely. I wish I could say I was wrong, but I have a feeling that it is definitely going to be the most challenging section of the book to write for so many different, unique reasons. The whole 'heart on my sleeve' writing mentality is going to be tested pretty hard there and I know already that's going to sap my energy waaaaay faster than normal.

I gotta be ready for that. I know it's coming. And hopefully I've built up enough stamina by now to not let it roadblock progress because I have a HELL of a schedule in front of me this next month. 

I like that though. I like what I have planned for it and I'm curious to see if I can actually pull it off because if I DO, then I think Act Two will stand as probably the most emotionally impacting section of the book, perhaps the entire series itself so far. And that's an achievement in its own right. If anyone has ever read the prologue of Book One - they know.

What now before attacking Act Two? Well, I'm going to walk away and let my subconscious show me the way - fill up on life these next two days. That's actually something J.K Rowling gave advice towards and doing it while 'balancing' the other important parts of my life has been extremely helpful. So, thanks, J.K Rowling - you the real MVP.

Until next week, guys - I'm hoping I can knock out the first three chapters of Act Two by this time next week, which is a lofty goal.. but lately, things have been flowing. So, I'm optimistic and as always, my glass is half full. I'm happy and proud of where I've come so quickly in Book Two development, but I acknowledge and realize the hardest part is right around the corner.

Ding ding.

 

 

Week 6 - Journey to Book Two

Hey everybody!

Getting back to tradition this week and taking the time to write on here. As you can see from the picture above... progress of Book Two has been going tremendously well.

I'm almost done with Act One. I only have two more chapters to go, which means..barring any unforeseen carpal tunnel or a freak wood shop accident (jokes, people).. I'll be finished with it by this time next week.

I've been really, really happy with the way Act One has been turning out. It was the one that I was staring at the last few months thinking, "Damn, I hope I can be able to start things off strong like that". But, as you will soon see in a couple of months... I think the result speaks for itself. You guys are going to love it.

I think I'm more excited about Act Two than anything else, though. Without any spoilers, I'll be giving a LOT of answers in a very unique writing style/format that stands out from the rest of the series as a whole. For all the times you probably inevitably wondered, "Well, what the hell does THAT mean?" in Book One... Act Two is for you.

(Hey, that rhymed)

Anyways, I'm going to give my fingers a break these next few days before the next week ahead. I'm giving this book everything I've got and I know that what I'm doing right now has an insanely great chance to become a world-wide phenomenon - that's the most exciting part of all, to be honest. Still, I've got a long way to go and I'm keeping to my mantra of one day and page at a time. Just want to keep trying to get there the right way... and I'm a hell of a lot closer to that than I was a month ago.

-KL

 

Week 4 - Journey to Book Two

It's strange.

I've been grinding through Book Two for only about a month now, but it feels more like a year. Perhaps, that's the lack of sleep talking. Or maybe, it's because today, for the first time, I went back and looked at everything I've accomplished these last twenty something days.

I guess I couldn't see it before.

...Back when I was overcoming my own personal grief.

...Back when I was scarfing my $5.89 sandwich down to lock myself in my car during my one hour break while at work to squeeze in some writing.

...Back when I would stay up all night editing and then slap myself in the face with coffee to go do my "other job" for the day.

...Back when I began to lose faith and confidence in myself as a result of my first "true" heartbreak.

...Back when I was chasing drinks nearly every single day at a bar (alone), contemplating whether what I thought I could be would ever be enough.

...And back when the only thing I could think of as I closed my eyes each night was, "Am I really going to break my promise to the very person who brought me into this world?"

What the hell is 'adversity'? What the hell is 'struggle'? Oh, I'll tell you:

It's something that can either kill you, or wake you up. And I'm begging anyone that's reading this right now, to choose the latter.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend things are easy... because they're not. And I'm certainly not going to sit here and pretend that, right now, in this exact moment I'm breathing, I'm where I want to be in my life...

...Because I'm not.

Yet, one thing I can't pretend... one thing that's been waking up next to me each day... is the simple fact that I'm on my way to forging the life, but most of all, the type of person I want to be.

"Why do you spill your emotions when you write?"

Honestly, I don't know. I think that's a good thing, though. I don't need to know. I just need to keep going and, like my mother once wrote to me on my 18th birthday card, "Always work hard and put forth your best effort in all that you do - it will pay big dividends for you."

We're all searching and fighting for something. I just hope and pray, every single day, that the result of what I'm doing right now is going to help a LOT of people. Someday.

-KL

Week 3 - Journey to Book Two

Hey everybody!

Act 1.3 is complete and I'm in the middle of working on Act 1.4 - admittedly, I would have liked to have finished the latter by week's end. However, it is the first significant rising action scene of the book, meaning there is a LOT happening.

Without getting into any "spoilers", one of the things I'm actually most excited about is how each chapter operates in Book Two. In the first book of the series, everything was revolving around Kyle's individual journey and the people being brought into the middle of it. Now, things are a bit... well, different.

Each chapter is going to be from a different character's perspective. The ONLY exception to this will be in Act Two, where I'll be doing something rather unique that I'm not ready to reveal yet. When I get to that point writing-wise, I'll sprinkle a couple hints.

But yeah, having the story told from different perspectives is crucial to the series as a whole. We're getting inside these character's heads that we were sort of "limited" in seeing during the first book. So much has started to happen in the events of Book One. They're human beings (well, most of them) and it's going to be insanely entertaining for the reader to get an idea of just how complex and unique these main characters are - antagonists included.

For instance, the chapter I'm on will be told from Josh's perspective. For those of you who don't know, Josh is actually one of my real life best friends that agreed to appear as one of the main characters in the book. Not many stories blend together fiction and non fiction, so that's one of the big "appeals" I guess you could say to the overall uniqueness attached to the fate of the series as a whole.

Anyways, on a much different note, my back is a bit thrown out from running, so I'm hoping the pain melts away soon. If not, I'm sure the lofty goal of trying to get 1.4 AND 1.5 finished this upcoming week will be more than possible. If all I'm able to do physically is write, then hey, my glass is half full.

Until then, be sure to check out my first book of the series if you haven't already. It's available on the front page of www.kylelionheart.com - I'm on pace to have Act One finished in March sometime. I can't believe how much has been done in only three weeks. I might have slowed down a bit this week due to the sheer size of Act 1.4, but I'll make up for it with the next few days ahead. I promise.

-KL

 

Week 2 - Journey to Book Two

Whew, that momentum I'm chasing after is gradually starting to pick up and form.

Week Two of writing Book Two is officially in the books! And in case you understandably hate me for making that horrible pun... I'll try and redeem your love in saying that I was able to finish two chapters this week. Booming incoming.

Act 1.1 and Act 1.2 are now complete.

That makes three chapters done in total if you include the 'Prologue' from the week before(which, you should). I'm rapidly approaching being 30 pages deep when my goal is to be around the lower 400+ mark come summer online kindle release and then the epic publishing hunt for the series as a whole. I know that sounds like I've got a long way to go... and don't get me wrong, I do... but I have to remind myself - I'm only two weeks into this grind.

Admittedly, I probably have more inspiration/motivation inside of me than I know what to do with right now. And the product of that energy is bleeding through the other side of each new page, I can assure you. It's a special sort of thing.

To all my friends back home in California, I'm writing for you guys. I know that if I can just close my eyes, shut out the voice of doubt and push myself harder than I ever have before these next couple of months... it will all be worth it.

I would be nowhere in my life if it weren't for all the times my friends have helped me. I'm trying to get what I'm dreaming right now, so I can help those same people get what they're dreaming too. This is a team effort, after all.

Week 1 - Journey to Book Two

Hey friends, family and readers!

Let me preface this first blog post of my journey towards Book Two by saying that since I've been spending so much time writing over the last few days, this particular post won't be very long.

This was my first official week of beginning to write Book Two of THE SEVEN SAGA. I announced last week in a short 60 second video on my Facebook & Instagram page that I was going to finally start writing the second book of my series.

As it's my number one life mission these next couple of months to grind and release Book Two by Summer 2017, I dove in right away from page one.

I began writing the 'Prologue' itself.

Admittedly, I took things a little bit slower than I'm used to. My philosophy with writing has always been parallel to working out. You have to build yourself up gradually to be writing 20-25 pages a day, or "crushing" (in the words of my good friend, Michael Carlson) your max set on a bench press. Thus, I set the goal for my first week to try and finish the 'Prologue' itself, and nothing further until Monday.

The beginning of a book is the hardest part, in my opinion. It's the first thing a reader sees. It's the first taste they get in their mouth. And if it ain't pretty, well... what type of tone does that set for the rest of the book itself?

Welllllllllllllllllllll....

I'm very happy to say that I've officially finished the 'Prologue' section of Book Two during my first week "back". And the taste is better than I could have ever possibly imagined. I can't wait for you guys to taste it too.

Next week, I'll be diving into the mother... Act One. Which, will most certainly take WAY more than a week to finish. Still, having that first part done is a huge relief and I couldn't be prouder of the way it turned out.

The last thing I wanted to say is that one of the reasons I'm so excited right now about everything ahead is that this book is going to be VERY different from the first... whereas Book One focused a lot on Kyle's individual journey and the reader was somewhat "constricted" to only his perspective... Book Two is evolving from that.

I'll reveal what all that means at a later point in time in the days ahead, but for now... I just wanted to share a slice of my week with you all and let you know that I'm working away on Book Two-- and everything is going great so far.

Until next week,

-KL

 

 

 

How-To Tuesday - How To Sucessfully Perform a Video Game Charity Event (Part 2)

Last week, I discussed the basics of WHAT a Video Game Charity Event entails. This week, I’m going to highlight what I believe to be the most important ingredient... or ingredients, rather.

The team itself.

Behind every successful Video Game Charity Event I've organized, there has always been a team. And that's because, simply put, those events would NOT have been a success if it weren't for them and the many unique roles they played both during and leading up to the event itself.

That's not a compliment. That's a fact.

Some of you might shrug this off or say, "Hey, I can do this on my own, Kyle. Shut up." And listen man, I'm not saying that it's impossible to run one of these things completely solo... what I am saying, however, is that the most successful events all derive from a TEAM effort. And without a solid team backing you... well, you're going to limit the amount of money you can raise and most importantly...

...You're going to limit the experience of the event itself. Internally and externally.

I mean, think about it. What would you rather watch, as an outsider (potential donor), on screen during a Video Game Charity Event:

  1. The same person playing a video game all weekend juggling between trying to call out donations, focusing on the game and reading chat.
  2. A group of individuals interacting with one another all weekend, laughing, having fun and playing a specific role so as to not overwhelm anyone with too many responsibilities.

Okay, so I know I probably painted number two there a little fancier... but that's just the point. Things ARE fancier when you have an incredible team by your side. You have the luxury of having a player, cast of commentators, technical crew, donation announcer all together on one couch (see above picture). Not only does the atmosphere of having multiple people on screen attract more attention, aka more donations... but, it makes for the experience of the event itself to be so much more gratifying and fulfilling.

Again, you're limiting what the event CAN BE without having a team behind you every step of the way.

If you don't believe me, then I urge you to watch the video below. At the very least, the first two minutes of it... The moment we broke our goal of $10,000.00 raised for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was something I'll never forget for the rest of my life. Yet, it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable if it weren't for the people that were around me WHEN that moment happened.

That's what happens when you put people in a room together that want to do something great. That's what happens when you fight through a lack of sleep all weekend long just to see another donation from a kind-hearted individual pour in. That's what happens when you set a goal and do everything in your power to accomplish it.

And yes, that's what happens when you have an incredible team.

. . .

So, without further ado... I present to you a list of the roles you should seek out in recruiting/building your Video Game Charity Event team that are absolutely integral to the overall success of the marathon itself.

The Player(s)

Richie and Eliot were a few of the first  player's  up in Zelda Madness. Eliot tackled one of the most unheard of and difficult games of the franchise, Zelda II. While Richie took the classic Link's Awakening to new heights... beating the game with  zero  deaths in an incredibly fast time/pace.

Richie and Eliot were a few of the first player's up in Zelda Madness. Eliot tackled one of the most unheard of and difficult games of the franchise, Zelda II. While Richie took the classic Link's Awakening to new heights... beating the game with zero deaths in an incredibly fast time/pace.

I'm sure this one was obvious, but how could I leave it off? You can't do a Video Game Charity Event without a rotation of players that actually play the games themselves.  

I've found that the best way to find a "good" player is making sure they are playing a game that they WANT to play.

Believe me, you can tell from a mile away if someone is playing something that they don't genuinely want to play... and that reflects on the performance within the game itself.

I've found the easiest way to do this is making a list of the games prior to the event itself and asking each potential player (those who have volunteered to want to play in the Video Game Charity Event) what game they think they would:

  1. Have the MOST fun with.
  2. Have the MOST experience with.

A lot of times, depending on your sample size of players for the event itself (I had typically around six, including myself), you might face the "issue" of having multiple people wanting to play the same game.

In situations like THAT, it's actually a waaaaaay easier compromise than you might imagine.

For instance, the best solution, in my opinion, is to have both players take turns playing through the game itself. This is great because since the other person in waiting to play next already knows so much about the game, they're able to act as a sort of "narrator" and give people a much better understanding about everything that's going on throughout the game itself.

The player's are the heartbeat of a Video Game Charity Event because they are the main attention of it. Sometimes, that can be scary... especially if you're doing this for the first time and have never played in front of a lot of people at one time.

Don't overthink it.

This is a CHARITY event and unless you're trying to break some world record or advertise yourself as "insanely pro speed runners", the best thing you can do as a player is to just have fun, give it your best, and let the show be your experience through the game itself.

Don't take yourself so seriously.

I remember having our friend Parsha try to play through Mario 64's "Magic Carpet Ride" level. That was one of the most hilarious things in the world because... well, I love you buddy and I know you'll hate me for saying this... but he absolutely sucked at it. Which, led to chat, the people in the room and just about everybody else watching around the world cheering him on to beat it.

The "failures" of a player at a Video Game Charity Event are not failures.

They add a surprising amount of charm and realness to the event itself. And an element of hilarity unlike anything you've seen. Having said that...

Still make sure you practice before the event.

I know the best way we measured this was by hosting meetings every month or so leading up to the event itself and while at the meeting... we all took turns playing our games to measure where we were at. Also, you're going to want to do a tech "run", so to speak, right before the event itself just to make sure that all the equipment (I'll get into that in a later section) is working properly. While this is going on... this is the PERFECT time to do one last real "run" for each player (or the one's that feel they need it) to ensure they are comfortable before going live.

Also, if you happen to have the luxury of multiple televisions and video game systems at the location of the event itself, you can always have your players practicing in a separate room too! Just make sure they aren't too loud and disrupt the ACTUAL event itself!

 

The Commentator(s)

The "Two Kyle's".

The "Two Kyle's".

The mission of a commentator should be to engage the audience that's watching as much as humanly possible.

I've found that the most successful commentators are the one's that:

  1. Exhibit energy and projection in their voice
  2. Display light hearted humor and are able to make people laugh (no, you don't need to be a comedian)
  3. Establish a fine balance of depicting the mission of the charity itself while engaging with everything else that's going on in the room and screen.

That's a lot.

Similar to players, having commentators work in shifts/rotations is ideal because if you're doing it right... it should become exhausting after a while.

Think about it:

You're reading chat, calling out incoming donations (while trying not to interrupt the flow of a game), reminding people what the event is for/about all while trying to connect with the people watching at home.

I find that the best way to commentate is to do it with multiple people. This alleviates the pressure of having to do everything yourself... and, inevitably, it's a lot easier not to miss something in chat when you have more than one person reading it.

My best friend and teammate Kyle Serra, to me, epitomizes everything a commentator should be. Or, at least, STRIVE to be.

His voice was "announcer-like". He made each donation more exciting than the next. He kept people engaged with what was happening or about to happen on the schedule. And he was able to do that all while allowing the players to concentrate on the game itself.

I have been blessed to have had so many unique and amazing commentators throughout the course of three Video Game Charity Events. From Paul's impressions, to Richie's "Wario Bike!" to the swagtastic commentary of Ricky, to Andria's gentle touch of engaging people with her soothing voice... man, I've had a LOT of good commentators.

When building your team, make sure you keep people in mind that you think would make great commentators. You're going to be hearing them more than anything else, after all. And so will the rest of the internet too.

I think one of the most important qualities for commentators is being grateful.

Whenever someone donates, you want them to know personally how much it meant to have that donation come in... make people feel SPECIAL. Without those donations, there wouldn't be an event... so each time a new one comes in... get stoked! Make them feel the love!

And then, if you do that each time... no matter what size of the donation... the love will continue to pour in.

I promise you.

The Technical Crew

Josh was back here 90 percent of the time... I just think he's a little camera "shy". :)

Josh was back here 90 percent of the time... I just think he's a little camera "shy". :)

Having a proper technical crew behind you at all time's insures that if anything goes wrong, it can be fixed. And I don't think you'll ever have an event where something DOESN'T go wrong.

These are facts...

Imagine spending months and months putting together an event all to have it fall apart because the server crashed during the event itself. Or, perhaps the camera stopped working and nobody can see anything other than the dark abyss of a black screen.

There are SO many things that can happen when you put on an event like this. And making sure you have a technical crew behind you at all times makes these disasters avoidable.

I usually set up a "station" where the crew can monitor everything most optimally (usually behind the event itself). Recruiting people that are familiar with recording software, are able to make text appear on screen and understand how to remedy power outages are all MAJOR pluses.

You don't have to be an expert at it... I didn't think I would understand things, but I got it after a little trial by fire. Yet, I was lucky enough to have a cast of people (shout outs to Josh, Preston, Jeff, Kyle, Tree, Parsha and anyone else I missed) that I always felt comfortable with. Even when our power went out, and I had to race to the nearest store to buy a new extension cord, I knew that everything would be alright because THEY were THERE.

When you have so many other things to focus on, such as getting donations, or you know... playing the GAME... believe me, the last thing you want to worry about is a technical issue.

You should ALWAYS have a technical crew "run-through" either the night before the event or the day of (I always did night before just to be safe). This allows them to get on the same page with one another and ensure that there are no hiccups when that camera light goes live.

I always went out of my way as MUCH as possible to help the technical crew out... it was a big responsibility and there were times when moving away just to go to the bathroom was difficult. My advice?

Get as many people that want to help on the technical side as possible. They are integral to the success of the event and control all the strings.

. . .

Team of our moderators/social media going to work.

Team of our moderators/social media going to work.

The Moderators/Social Media Crew

I suppose this one is a little bit of a hybrid, but it's all relative. Believe me, it might not sound like this piece is necessary, but it ABSOLUTELY is.

Your team needs to include volunteers that can:

  1. Moderate chat itself ensuring that people follow guidelines and aren't rude/disrespectful (yes, this happens even during a charity event)
  2. Reach out on social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, the whole nine yards) to increase viewers and get the word out about the event that is happening RIGHT NOW.

The cool thing about moderating chat is that you don't HAVE to be in the same room or at the event itself to do it...

For instance, I had an incredible friend (Carlos) who did this all from several states away during the second Video Game Charity Event I did. And then, when he showed up to the third one in person... well, that was even better.

You need to have people moderating chat because it CAN get out of hand pretty quickly if you're not careful. And obviously, the more people that are watching, the higher the chance that things DO get out of hand. This isn't a "scary" thing, especially when you have a crew of moderators ready and able to 'kick' anyone out that's acting inappropriate. But if you don't have that...?

Yeah... don't let that happen.

Moderators are also the other side of the spectrum too. They are actively encouraging people to donate in chat, or thanking those that did.

They're a very quick/easy outlet to engage with people watching when so many other things are going on. I'm thankful I've had a lot of people to help with that in the past. It's definitely an "easier" job compared to the roles I've described above and I've found that when people ask me, "Kyle, can I help out with your event?" that's one of the best ways for them to do so.

Social media blasts are a MUST. If people don't know about your event... how the hell can they donate to it? Thus, you have a team for it!

I always had people posting about what we were doing at all times. Usually, I would assign people to certain media outlets. Person A would be responsible for the Facebook Fan Page. Person B would be responsible for bumping the Reddit topic. Person C would be responsible for doing a snapchat story... etc

There are SO MANY different social media outlets now, which means that there are immeasurable ways to gain an audience. And most of all, to continue to make it grow, which should be the goal of all social media teams.

Having each person bring their own laptop to the event itself works best for this, obviously. If they don't have one, tablets or smart phones are viable too...

Similar to having a technical crew "station", I like to have one for the moderators/social media crew as well. Often times, this can be on the couch as it allows them to be on screen and interact... but it all depends on the person and their level of comfort of being on camera.

Just make sure you don't undervalue how important this piece is to your team. Just because it's "easier" to do doesn't mean it isn't one of the most important ingredients to the overall success of the event itself. These people are making more and more people know about the event... and from that, these people are bringing you closer and closer to that overall donation goal you're trying to achieve.

Make sure they are by your side at all times because it's going to be a lot lonelier of an event if they're not. Both on and off screen.

When building your Video Game Charity Event team, strive to have each of these categories fulfilled. With them, you’ll be great. Without them, you will not.

I’ll see you all next week as we dive into getting sponsors, website front page exposure and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation Monday - Another Promise From the Past

I wrote this over three years ago, right around the time I made a promise to myself to finish “The Seven - Awakening”. I’m glad I kept that promise. And I’m glad I have a hell of a lot more promises to go..

Remember when we were kids? Better yet, remember when we were kids and we were all asked this stereotypical question at one time or another:

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

You have to admit, it's sort of comical, looking back on it all. As if a six year old kid would have any idea what they truly want their career to be when they grow up. Being innocent to the world around us, we'd of course blurt out answers such as, "a fireman" or "a doctor" or "president" because the idea of being all those things didn't seem impossible to us. In fact, the idea of being these things - these types of "people" in our society - felt all too real because there was nobody telling us that we couldn't do it.

And then suddenly, here you are. You're all grown up. And one day while you're clearing out your house, you come across a piece of paper from nearly 18 years ago. The writing is horrendous, misspelled and all around barely legible. But the core message within the note stands out immediately:

"When I grow up, I want to be ________"

We laugh to ourselves reading the nostalgic filled note, but there's another part of us that isn't laughing. There's another part of us that is beginning to resurface after years and years of slumber. The part of us that we'd like to forget. The part of us that we'd like to not be reminded of.

The part of us that didn't end up becoming "blank".

I don't exactly think it's fair to assume that we all had this "idea" or "vision" of what we wanted to do when we grow up while we were kids. Our dreams change. Our visions shift. And that one idea you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life aspiring to yesterday, might turn out to be something completely different the next day.

Everyone figures out where their passion lies at their own pace and timing in life. But the sad truth is-- not everybody has enough courage to follow it.

Our past self that screamed "I'm going to be president!" with absolute confidence at age six has gradually become drowned out by the reality that surrounds us on an every day basis. Now there ARE people telling us that we can't do it. In fact, there are more people telling us we CAN'T do it than there are telling us that we CAN.

The tables have turned. The grass is not greener. And suddenly, we open our eyes and we're sitting at a cubicle asking ourselves, "Why did I pick up that note the other day? Why did I have to read that note and remind myself of what my life has become?"

Everything I just described sounds pretty dark, right? But that's just the point--this doesn't have to be our life.

It doesn't have to be this way. And I'm going to tell you exactly why... speaking from my own personal life. And more importantly, speaking from my own personal dream.

Why do you think most people end up doing something they don't love? The answer isn't as complicated as you might think. It is NOT some uncontrollable factor that cannot be changed. It is NOT some kind of destiny that got thrown your way because you didn't roll high enough. No, the reason that most people end up doing something they don't love is because they settle for what is already in front of them.

They go for what is convenient. They go for what is stable enough to get them by. And once they have that stability established (even if it's something they don't love doing), they hold on to it and never look back. Because to them, this is the best they can do. Or at least, that's what they begin to believe over the years. But the reality is, in believing this, they have become more lost and disillusioned than a 6 year old boy expressing his dream of becoming the next President of the United States of America.

Let me open the door a bit for you so you can get a glimpse. Over the last 8 months of my life, I have exited college and entered the working world. The "real world", so to speak. I have been fortunate enough to have found a job right away. Better yet, I have been fortunate enough to keep this job and move up in it within the short time frame I've been at it.

Is this job something I am truly passionate about? No.

But is this job something that's paying the bills and providing stability in my life?

Absolutely, yes.

The truth is, as the months started to pass, I started becoming more and more terrified that I would end up exactly like the "they" I mentioned above.... Working at a job for the rest of my life doing something that doesn't utilize or fulfill my passion.

...And what exactly is my passion?

. . .

"Dad... did you ask Mom about it?"

"Don, what's he talking about?"

"A journal. He saw a journal he liked at the book store earlier today. He wants to go back and buy it."

"A journal, huh?"

"It's a 'Goosebumps' version one!"

"He does love 'Goosebumps'..."

"Listen sweety, we'll buy that journal for you. But you have to promise that you'll actually write in it and not waste it."

"I will, Mom. I promise."

"You have to fill each page, okay?"

"Ok."

"Alright. Let's go back to the bookstore later this afternoon and get it."

. . .

I was in second grade when this happened. My parents bought me that journal and for the first time in my life, I started to write using my imagination instead of something a teacher was telling me to write about. Every day I started filling the pages more and more. I wrote about my life. I wrote about what was happening in it. And I wrote about the future too-- the things I was looking forward to.

That journal got filled up, and by no means it was 'novel material'. But from filling up that journal, I did come to realize perhaps the most important epiphany of my entire life:

My passion lied in writing. My passion was writing.

I always told myself that, someday, I would write something that would have a positive affect on the world. But ever since I graduated and ended up "not saving the world" one day at a time, I have to admit that I had become discouraged up until now. The fact that I would wake up and go to sleep not having satisfied that passion in my life was killing me inside. And then, just when I was feeling at my mental worst, I got really sick (walking pneumonia). And remained sick for about an entire month.

Today was the first day I started feeling like myself again. But more importantly, today was the first day in what feels like forever that I told myself, "I'm going to write something today."

And here I am.

Everyone has their own source of inspiration and they lean towards it and hold it up like a light in the dark when things seem their most bleak. For me, my inspiration has always and will always be my Mom. I don't need to go into the whole story because I feel like many of you already know it, but there are TWO life changing events that happened with my Mom that I always look back to and remind myself of when I am ever feeling like that dream of fulfilling my passion is fading away.

1) On my 13th birthday, my mom gave me a card. Within the card, it expressed to me how she thought I was special. That there was something much more to me that I hadn't discovered yet and will some day down the road. After she read it, she looked at me and told me "I really do think you're special. And I'm not just saying that either." A few months ago when I was moving out of the house I had lived at my entire life, I found that same exact card she had given me. And the message has been instilled into me to this very day.

2) The day my mom passed away. That day fragmented me in many ways, but the one part I will never forget is the promise I made when I got into the hospital room. When I had accepted the fact that she only had a few more minutes left to live, I lost it. And I started talking to her. And one of the things I told her was that I promised I would be somebody. I promised I would go out and use what I've been through to help other people and make something of myself. And that's a promise I literally remind myself of every single day of my life.

Getting back to the point... if you ever find something that inspires you... and please, trust me on this-- listen to it. Listen to whatever is inspiring you and use it as your weapon. Because there are going to be a lot of shitty things that happen in life. Things that you probably hadn't planned for, prepared for and that will sometimes knock you down so hard you won't want to get back up again as the same person.

But all those "shitty" things are life experiences that will DEFINE you as a PERSON. And from using that inspiration as your second wind, you can still find your way in this world. You can still be who you want to be.

You can still be happy.

I made myself another promise today. I promised myself that after I finish this big fundraising project I've been working on that will occur in July (and believe me, it's going to be BIG), that I would turn my attention during my off time between work on my writing.

And more specifically, on turning my writing into something the rest of the world can hopefully someday see.

So if you're like me, and waking up to go to a job you might not necessarily "love" tomorrow, just remember-- you can still be who you WANT to be in life. And just because you're not where you want to be yet, doesn't mean it's not going to ever happen. Use the fact that you're not there as a means to try and bring the dream closer to you.

One day at a time. Don't give up.

 

 

Thursday's Toast - An Open Letter To Anyone Struggling Right Now

I want you to know that it's okay.

That everything your mind and heart has been worrying about will be put to peace. That everything you have been waking up hurting over and going to sleep crying over won't be able to hurt you anymore. That everything that seemed permanent at the time was all just temporary. That there was a reason you went through it all. You were never actually alone.

I want you to know that it's confusing.

That I haven't figured it out, and no one else has either. That we're all just trying to live our lives, survive and somehow be happy in the process. And that sometimes what we think we need is really just what we want. That it's okay if you messed up or made a decision someone else didn't agree with. That none of the times you ever fucked up in your life actually matters. Because we all fuck up. And it doesn't matter who we were and where we went. All that matters - all that has ever mattered,  is who we are and where we want to end up.

I want you to know that you're strong.

That you're too humble to see it. That people look up to you. Admire you. Love you. And most of all, respect you. That you went through things most people would change from and still came out the same person on the other side of it all. That you are different. Special. Rare. That you have more in you than you even realize. And that you inspire others in the process from that source of strength.

I want you to know that I have your back.

That I always have, even when you thought I didn't. That even when you thought I wasn't there, I was still thinking of you. Praying for you. Wanting nothing more than for you to be happy. That nothing could ever change any of that or any of this that's right in front of us. That a promise is a promise. And that it's not about me. That it's never been about me. It's always been about you.

I want you to know that you can still have everything.

That nothing has changed at all. That not this, nor anything else, can stop you from being who you want to be. That you can still have the things you want. That you can still do the things you want to do. And that you don't have to have it figured out tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. Because one day, like it or not, it's going to happen.

I want you to know that.

How-To Tuesday - How to Successfully Perform a Video Game Charity Event (Part 1)

Hey everybody!

For this week's "How-To Tuesday", I'm going to be talking about something a little bit different compared to last week's subject on Repeated Acts of Courage. (look at this guy keeping it fresh!)

Unlike before, where I was basically able to condense everything down to a singular post, I strongly feel this one deserves much, much more attention to detail. And so for the next couple of Tuesday's (hopefully no more than 3 given my current personal blueprint), I'm very excited to be diving into a rather unique topic that has been such a monumental part of my past - not to mention, something that has provided one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever felt in my entire life

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is...

How to perform a Video Game Charity Event. And raise a ton of money for a good cause in the process..

. . .

Now, for starters... I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that a lot of you probablllllly don't know WHAT a Video Game Charity Event is. And my dear, dear reader, if you're silently nodding your head right now or sitting still for fear of judgment... that's more than okay! Hell, it's understandable

Because, well... a few short years ago, I had no idea what it was either.

The truth is, I don't think enough people DO know what a Video Game Charity Event is. And honestly? That's precisely why I'm writing this. Simply put, the world needs ore and more "good people doing good things" each and every day. And for most, finding new and creative ideas to get involved with philanthropy proves challenging... so, I'm hoping that the sooner you learn what I'm talking about, the sooner you'll be motivated to want to try and do it as well! Because that's the crazy thing about Video Game Charity Events....

ANYONE can do them. Even if you "suck" at video games, or don't know a THING about them... ANYONE can do it.

...Don't believe me? I went into my first event with my (amazing) friends back in 2010 with absolutely zero experience under my belt. And guess what? It still became a success. And the results from the other two we did back in 2011 and 2013? Over $30,000.00 raised for charity. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, namely.

I firmly believe that Video Game Charity Events are one of the greatest ways possible to make a huge difference in a short amount of time in the charity world. And most of all, to have a heck of a lot of fun every second while doing it too.

Sounds appealing, huh? Now that I can sense your ears are perking up, let's dive right into the basics of WHAT EXACTLY a Video Game Charity Event IS:

. . .

In essence, a Video Game Charity Event is when a group of individuals gather together for an extended period of time (typically during a weekend when most people aren't working) and broadcast LIVE over the internet:

  • Video Games being played on screen
  • The people in the room playing the video games and commentating during them.

To get a better picture... think of a YouTube video that automatically loads on your screen. Except, everything you are seeing is happening LIVE in REAL TIME and you get to see/hear the people involved for each and every second of it.

The fact that this is all happening LIVE means it allows people from ALL ACROSS THE WORLD the opportunity to DONATE at ANY TIME.

Typically, the charity of choice (we chose St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for our last event back in 2013) will be conveniently placed on your screen with the TOTAL AMOUNT raised so far during the event and HOW MUCH they are aiming for ("the goal", essentially)

By clicking that simple, "Donate" button... you will be streamlined to a page where you can enter ANY amount you want to contribute to the cause. This could be $5. This could be $100. This could be $1. It doesn't matter because in the end, it's ALL GOING TOWARDS HELPING REACH THAT GOAL.

This is the best part...

When you donate, the people AT the event will be informed of it practically immediately. And they will shout out your name, how much you contributed... and give you a grand ol' round of applause too! (well, we did, anyways...)

I should also mention that when you donate at Video Game Charity Events, you have the opportunity to leave a comment to your donation as well. Whether you're leaving the donation in memory of a person you lost to cancer or just to say "good job guys!" everything gets read out loud to the rest of the world! And for those few seconds, from behind your computer screen on a Friday night, you managed to be a part of it.

And that's a great feeling, let me tell you...

The first time it ever happened to me, I was watching something called "Mario Marathon" (to see their website, go to www.mariomarathon.com). It was the first time I had EVER seen a Video Game Charity before and within an hour of being sucked in by how much fun these friends were having together beating every single Mario game, I decided to play my part and donate... I didn't think they would read it. I didn't care if they did.

...but they did. They read my whopping $15 donation (I was in college, okay) and gave me a round of applause from across the United States. And that, reader, was a moment I'll never forget.

In fact, looking back, I think that's probably the moment I realized just how badly I wanted to do something like this myself one day.

I saw how much good they were doing and how many other people's donations were following my own. It was a domino effect. You see one person donate, you want to donate as well. And before you know it, playing a video game raises thousands and thousands of dollars for charity.

I think one of the other best parts of a Video Game Charity Event, however, is the fact that there is ALWAYS something happening. I could get home from a "hot date" feeling great about myself and start brushing my teeth getting ready to go to bed... and then, out of curiosity, I go back to the Video Game Charity Event's website and.......... BAM!

Something is still happening! It's 3am on the east coast there, and they're still going at it! They're still getting donations! And I can't help but notice that the amount of money they've raised since I went out to the movies is a few thousand dollars higher than when I saw them earlier that afternoon.

So, in summary, Video Game Charity Events have:

  • People playing video games LIVE nonstop (even during the wee hours of the night) in the name of charity.
  • People talking, laughing and interacting with everybody across the world from chat (I had an Australia donation my first event), praising donations and making them feel like a part of it... because they ARE a part of it, even if they're not physically there.
  • A set donation goal for the particular charity that they are trying to REACH before the END of the event itself.

. . .

...Of course, there are more elements that simply this... prizes, raffles, donation incentives, challenge rounds, milestones, camera work, technical equipment, sleeping shifts, commentators, players themselves.

And let's not even START with promoting the event itself, getting sponsors, social media, website management, event location, and so on..

Now do you see why I want to make this multiple parts...?

For now, you hopefully have a much better idea of what a Video Game Charity Event.... Next week, I'll start going into the things you will NEED for the event itself BEFORE you can actually start doing it.

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motivation Monday - Beneath the Surface

I remember a few years ago writing a short story while I was back in college about a kid watering a plant every day, attempting to make it grow. While that miiiiiiight sound sort of simple on paper, there was a much, much deeper meaning and significance hidden behind it.

You see, in that short story, the kid kept watering the plant religiously as he was instructed to do each and every single day.

...the catch?

The plant, no matter how hard he seemed to try, NEVER rose above the ground - it always seemed to be trapped beneath the surface.

In other words, this poor kid was slaving away each day hoping and praying to see the fruits of his labor quite literally rise above the surface... but the results never seemed to appear.

Naturally, this would frustrate many people - and this kid certainly wasn't any exception to the poll. He grew angry at himself and the world. He didn't understand why something he had concentrated so much effort into hadn't been working. He constantly compared his work (or lack thereof) to the other children's gardens - the gardens that had seen results.

The gardens that his would NEVER be. Or so he thought.

This bred impatience in the kid. And his faith, which had previously been so impenetrable, started to slowly wither away with each and every passing day he looked outside only to be greeted by the absence of something - anything - beautiful.

Still, despite these trying circumstances, the kid kept on watering the plant. Something inside him wanted to see it grow so badly that he was willing to push through all the pain at the here and now.

Something inside him told him not to "give up". And clinging to that indescribable voice from an indescribable place, he continued watering the plant through the many seasons that developed and passed.

There were days in the winter time where it was so cold he could barely feel his hands as he stood over the unchanging dirt pile pouring drop after drop of hope on top of it. There were moments in the summer time where he struggled to find the energy just to walk a few short steps towards it - overcome with emotion that so much time had passed and there was STILL nothing there.

Those were the moments the kid remembered the most. Because he wasn't blind or ignorant - even HE knew that most people would walk away from those ind of moments. Yet, here he was. And here the plant (or rather, pile of dirt) was as well. And he knew that after all he had done and poured into it... there was no way in hell he could turn his hands away from it.

Not now. He had come too far now.

Doubt inevitably filled the kid's head as he laid awake each night. Maybe he just wasn't meant to grow plants, he thought. Maybe his purpose in life was for something else. But then, he remembered WHY he kept going. He remembered that it was his PASSION that woke him up to try again each morning. And maybe, just maybe, he thought... it would be his PASSION that would make him succeed. One day. Someday. Eventually.

Even if he couldn't see it, something just told him... something just told him to keep going.

Other people laughed at the kid's "failure". While others were more sympathetic and encouraged him forward. Yet, between the criticism and empathy, the kid didn't pay attention to anything other than that pile of dirt. He didn't pay attention to anything other than his "craft". Then, as another sleepless night occurred, he decided to get out of bed and walk outside and sit next to it.

Putting his hand gently over the dirt, the kid closed his weakened eyes. He imagined just how amazing it would feel to walk out there one morning and see all his work come to life. More than anything, however, he imagined something already down there, beneath the surface. He imagined that something had been growing the entire time, but it just wasn't ready to break through....

...Yet.

Unbeknownst to the kid, he was right. Something had been growing underneath the dirt. Not to mention, in himself too.

. . .

What is it about dreams that keeps us up at night? Everyone has them. Everyone feels them. And yet, the tragedy of dreams is when we fail to pursue them.

The worst thing you can EVER do in life is reject your passion... because whether you believe it or not, everybody has passion in life. Everybody has a gift in life. And it's up to us and us alone to either use it... or dismiss that gift entirely.

Let me tell you, right here, right now, that absolutely NOTHING worth it comes easy in life. And that's a good thing, trust me... because if it WAS easy... how exactly would that feel worth it?

...But that's also the problem... because when a dream or a passion IS difficult to achieve, many of us feel inclined to move our hands away from it - much like the kid over that pile of dirt.

What we don't realize, especially in the beginning, is that everything we put into a dream - every draft, every small step, every rejection, every ounce of blood and sweat - IT ALL GOES SOMEWHERE.

And just because you might not be able to see it, doesn't mean you just "give up". It means that flower beneath the surface is just another inch closer to bursting through - and it's up to YOU to pull it up another inch further. One day at a time. One week at a time. One year...

"It's the journey, not the destination." And the sooner we look at our gift from that perspective (and again, I say "OUR" because I'll fight till the end saying that everybody on this planet has a gift), the sooner the journey itself can truly begin - and as I'm in the middle of my own "journey", if you will, right now... I can honestly say, from the bottom of my heart...

The journey is the absolute best part.

. . .

Do you know just how big that kid's flower grew?

Do you know that the only reason it took longer than most other kids in the neighborhood is that it needed the space and time to fully develop?

Did you know that the most special things in this universe never come easy? But when they DO begin to break open and come true, there's nothing that can stop it or you?

Did you know that the desire to "be something" or "be somebody" will ALWAYS overpower doubt or outside criticism? Did you know it will always manage to siphon gas even when your tank says E?

Did you know it will always find a way to wake you up each day? Because, reader... that's just what TRUE passion does - it wakes us up to what we can potentially become.

...as long as we're willing and brave enough to go down the journey of getting "there".

To everybody out there that has a dream... do me, but most of all, yourself a favor... and go out and pursue it.

Keep watering it each and every day... and if you ever feel discouraged along the way, just remember that's NORMAL.

I can't even begin to tell you the amount of days where I wanted to "give up" or felt like I was writing something the world would "never see or read"!

But that's the strange and unique thing about being human - we all have those "weak" moments in life... but then, there are also the other moments. There are the other moments where we find strength to keep going. Even when the wind is directly in our face, trying to push us back, we keep moving forward. And that's how winners are made.

That's how dreams can and do come true.

I hope you all continue to keep going.

I hope you all continue to keep fighting for whatever that passion is inside you.

Because I'm not giving up on mine... and if I can make it, I'm pretty sure every person out there in the world can too.

Keep watering the plant. Despite what you can "see", it's always growing beneath the surface. And the moment it breaks through to the light - well, admittedly, that's the moment I'm chasing each and every day. I want that moment. And you know what? I'm going to get it too. And so will you.

Because while I don't know what it all means... what I DO know - perhaps what I've ALWAYS known - is that it's worth it.

 

 

 

Book Two Development

Hey everyone!

I'm taking a step away today to talk a little bit about the future itself. And the thing I'm most excited about - writing the second book of my series.

For those that have read, "The Seven - Awakening" I'm sure you're well aware that things ended with a LOT of questions. And that's the beauty of a book series in itself... you don't GET every answer in just one book. You're allowed to expand the story to new heights and do something incredible in the process.

A lot of people have asked me, "Do you know where you're going for the rest of the series?" My answer to them?

Absolutely. Absolutely I do.

The truth is, part of the reason completing the first book took me a long time (besides the fact that I was balancing a full time job, school, charity events, etc) was VERY decision I made in that book NEEDED to be laid out with the future books in mind.

I've already made the blueprint for the next six books... and next week, I intend to begin writing the prologue. Something I am very excited about for Book Two, however, is that I'll be writing it with a much different style/format.

You see, now that a lot of the main characters have been introduced... I'm going to be showing the reader a lot more about said characters. That's why instead of the typical "Chapter 1" and "Chapter 2" vanilla format, I'll be doing each chapter in Book Two old from a SPECIFIC character's perspective.

...And yes, this also includes the "bad guys" as well.

In addition, my first book had two acts... well, this book will have THREE acts. Meaning, as you might assume, the book itself will be much longer. And that's a very good thing too because Book Two will have a LOT of content and most of all... a lot of answers.

One area in particular I'm excited about is telling the story of "Rebirth" - the main organization that's attached to so much of Book One's plot. Donald, Kyle's dad, has a large history there. And as it is central to a lot of the plot for Book Two, I've purposely waited to expand upon its origin and most of all, the big "twist" that came towards the end of Book One in the Epilogue.

Going into more detail would be spoiling the surprise, but let's just say I have a LOT on my plate these next few months and my number one priority is getting this out there for you all sometime in 2017. Which, is ambitious... but when you love what you do and do what you love, it's really not as complicated as you might think.

I'll be teasing you all with more as the weeks pass by, but for now, I hope you continue to enjoy Book One and just know that Book Two is on its way... and when that happens, I can't WAIT for you to read it. It's going to be THE project for me these next few months and I promise to deliver in the best way possible.

I love you guys so much and couldn't be happier to have the support that's been gathered these last few short months since I started. I hope everyone has a safe, fun and wonderful weekend and I'll see you all Monday.

-KL

 

Thursday's Toast - An Open Letter to Peyton Manning

Mr. Manning,

Please allow me to preface this letter by saying I’m not writing this in some wild hope or attempt of you stumbling across the internet and seeing this. That would be like me asking someone to close their eyes, spin a globe a thousand times and point to where I spat my gum out yesterday.

No, Peyton. I’m writing this because I respect you and the incredible portfolio of your grand 18 year career in the national football league. And I want to tell you exactly why.

I have always been a Broncos fan, yet I was a Peyton Manning fan from almost the very beginning. I remember watching as a kid and seeing someone that I immediately respected. That was sort of a weird thing for me, in all honesty. I didn’t know why exactly I respected you in the manner I did.

Was it the humble attitude you carried both on and off the field? Even after the most clutch victories that would have most quarterbacks today dabbing? Was THAT what made me respect you?

Or was it the level of preparedness you exhibited. The hundreds and hundreds of hours you spent in a film room, studying. Grinding to reach a mental level unprecedented by your foes. Something that even the greats couldn’t rival. Did I respect THAT?

I’m not sure, Peyton. But what I AM pretty damn sure of is this...

You and I are a little more similar than you might originally think.

Let the records serve that I will never be famous. I will never be a media icon such as yourself. And I sure as hell won’t be breaking any records. Yet, if there’s one thing that makes us similar Peyton, I think it’s the resilience we both share.

...and I think that resilience is one of the most under appreciated and above all, one of the most important qualities a person can possess in life.

Please allow me to explain: I’ll never forget when you endured your first real form of injury. Mainly because, it happened during a time of my life where I felt very much injured as well - mentally speaking.

You see, Peyton, my mom had just died during the time you went down on that field from a six year battle with stage four breast cancer. And during that time, I didn’t know who I really was anymore.

For years and years, I had built a reputation of being the ‘strong’ one of the group. People would always seek me for help. And when I told them I was okay, I meant every word - I knew my mom was fighting cancer. We all were, in some way or another. But life is a battle... so I always seemed to draw strength from watching you from that hospital......

..until one day, when I woke up and it was all over. My mom, the person I was most like in this world, no longer was there.

During that time, I have to admit, I didn’t understand things. I’m sure you didn’t understand them either, Peyton. “Why do we fall?” I’ve always wondered that, buddy. But then I realize, as I write this today, I think we fall down because life makes us stronger in the process from every inch of the fall itself - those difficult moments and circumstances... they forge us into the type of people that can make a difference in this crazy world and society we live in. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

That’s what I still would like to believe..

I almost dropped out of school during the timeline of your injury and my mom’s entrance to heaven. I was in the purgatory of community college and quite frankly, I didn’t know if I ever wanted to go back. I saw a lot of color before that time of my life... I think my view of the world grew a lot darker when the person I had always leaned on in my life suddenly wasn’t there anymore.

Until, I realized... she really was there. She had been there all along. I just couldn’t see things straight.

I think we all have these types of moments in our life, Peyton -- Moments that challenge us to either make a difficult decision or present a choice to us that can change everything. You always taught me the importance of family and because of that, I had a lot of support to finish what I had originally started. You’re a lucky guy to have an Archie or an Eli - just like I’m lucky to have a Donald or a Julie.

As you rehabed, I took 22 units at one time and raced to the finish line to get into a school that would allow me to achieve my dream of academic excellence. It wasn’t easy - nothing big ever is, right? Still though, from watching you rehab and get stronger, I felt like it was my own civic duty and responsibility to myself to do the very same.

So I focused. And the admittance letter spoke to its own volume. I was on my way to UCI.

This is the point where our timelines are kind of strange, Peyton. Because as you began a very new chapter of your NFL career, I too, began my own new chapter as well.

The Colts, no disrespect to them at all, didn’t want to roll the dice on you. But in my heart, I knew one team that would:

The Denver Broncos.

I’ll never forget the excitement I had the morning you announced that you would be coming to Denver. I woke up to a flurry of Facebook and text messages saying, “Peyton’s coming to your team.”

I was in shock. Yeah, sure, I had a quiet confidence in my childhood hero coming to the team I grew up cheering for, but to see it actually come to life and fruition... I wasn’t really prepared for something like that.

Then, as expected, immediately came the other side of the narrative. The critics. The “haters”. The people that said you couldn’t bounce back from an injury like that. The people who said it couldn’t be done.

And I never listened to them, even for a second. And I’m sure you didn’t either, Sheriff. That’s because when you have a true passion for something in life, you don’t let the outside world steer you off track. Football is your passion, Peyton. And for me, well, it’s writing. In my early months of UCI, I felt like it wasn’t enough that I made it there.

I needed to do more. I needed to be more.

That’s why I got heavily involved in the non-profit world before you even began your first true season as a Bronco. I felt like life had given me a new opportunity and I wanted to do everything in my power to give back to that. My friends, the ones that stood by my side the entire way - they know that. We did a lot of pretty small, yet equally impact worthy things together during that time. And I’m glad we did. We certainly learned and grew a lot together.

And then, you started playing. And I’ll never forget the look in my Dad’s eyes as you took that first snap against the Steelers, who were out for blood after the Tebow to Demaryius drubbing in overtime the previous year. It was, “unique”, as you would say. It was the first time where I felt like my mom was sitting in the family room watching beside me. It gave me a strange sense of comfort and pride to see my childhood hero in orange and blue. Perhaps it was white, that game. Regardless, superstitions aside, that first day as a bronco was special - for you, and for me, buddy.

I could write a lot about the next few years - but I won’t. Because it doesn’t need to be written about. You set all those records, You set up all those wins, You took your team to a place we hadn’t seen in years and years. And you did it as classy as you did the first day you entered the league.

Of course, you would never admit it was you doing everything. “It’s a team effort”. I get that, Peyton... but, let me be the first to tell you.

It was YOU that did those incredible things. YOU did it. No one else.

Stepping away from that side though, I’ll never forget the Broncos/Seahawks superbowl. Oh man, I will not. Some people might not understand why I reacted the way I did to that killing - and I don’t ever expect them to. This letter’s purpose isn’t to do that. But I do remember being the only person wearing a broncos jersey at that superbowl party and watching in slow, painfully inducing motion, as the dream of holding up the Lombardi trophy got crushed one Kam Chancellor hit after another.

I remember playing flag football during half time, and accidentally ripping off my best friends t-shirt through a play. I was furious. I was angry. I didn’t understand.

I was in a very difficult place of my life when that was all happening. I was working at a job that, while I was lucky to have, I knew it wasn’t using my passion and potential. So, I would go about every day, scarf a sandwich and protein bar at lunch time, and write in my car... I just wrote... because Peyton -- similar to the way you always practiced, I wanted to be the best. And I knew, the only way I was going to get that was through hard work and most of all, discipline to myself.

People laughed at me a lot during that loss - rightfully so. I ran away from the world a little bit during that time not just because of that defeat, but because I felt like I had let my own personal team down as well.

I wasn’t getting any closer to my dream. I wasn’t upholding a big promise that I had made the night before my mom passed. And I didn’t like the person I was becoming in the process of it all. I didn’t like being Kyle Lambky for the very first time of my life. And that scared the hell out of me, Peyton.

I tried other jobs. Jobs that, I thought would make me happier or give me a renewed purpose in life... but as another hopeful season developed and ended in a one and done situation to the, as irony would serve, Colts... Well, I felt like my momentum in life had peaked, in a sense.

Maybe I was going to have to settle for everything that was in front of me. But then, 2015 happened...

This is the final part of my letter, Peyton - I know it’s gone on long enough. But this is by far the most emotionally meaningful portion for me to write, personally.

2015, as a whole, was one of the most difficult years of my entire life. That’s something, I’m very sure, you might be able to relate to. I mean, as soon as the season began, everyone seemed to be counting you out. And then, when you got BENCHED - Peyton god damn Manning, BENCHED - that happened at a time of my life where things were at their all time- worst.

Again, Peyton - I might be a nobody compared to you, but we are a lot more similar than you think.

My family has a tradition where each year, we go to one game together. We did it the previous year where I was able to see you break the all time touchdown record against the niners, and we were going to do it this year for the New England Patriots. The same game that, ironically, you weren’t even playing in!

I remember standing up all game, screaming through that blizzard with my family. And as the clocked rolled to over time, and CJ Anderson broke free for that game winning touchdown - something inside of me changed forever that night.

I began believing again. In you - in myself. In all the things around me. Cliche, sure. But accurate? You’re damn right, Sheriff. You’re damn right.

I knew you would come back. Because you had done it before. And when I was at home in Colorado spending valuable time with my family, and you got called on to that field... well, again, that was another unique footnote of an incredible story and most of all, an incredible season.

From that point on, I saw something very different in you, Peyton. Yeah, you couldn’t do everything perfectly. But no one can do it perfectly forever! What I saw from you though, that was different, was a look of determination on your eyes that mirrored my own individualistic passion.

I wanted to win just like you did. I wanted to succeed just like you did. I wanted to prove everybody wrong, just like you did. And I knew the only way to do that, was with my teammates:

My family. My friends. My loved ones.

My mom..

You won, Peyton. Both on and off the field, you won. I want to thank you for helping me through some of the most difficult moments in my life. I promised myself that if I ever developed an outlet to help people, that I would do so... so Peyton, thank you for 18 years of a masterpiece.

Ride on, Sheriff... Cheers to your new chapter - I can’t wait to read it.

-KL