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Out Now: Surrender (Crystal 2)

Surrender (Crystal 2)Hi everyone,

Surrender (Crystal 2) is out now: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Smashwords (it’ll be everywhere else soon). I love how the final cover turned out.

I’m feeling pretty festive, so if you post a book review for Searchlight (Crystal 1) on any of the online bookstores or review sites (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.) I’ll send you a free PDF of Surrender. Just email me and let me know that you’ve posted a review. My email address is dayo.benson@ymail.com.

(By the way the first book, Searchlight, is free in some places, like Smashwords).

People (readers) tell me I’m no good at writing book descriptions so I hope you guys have noticed that I’ve actually put in more effort with the book descriptions for this series, ha ha. I’ve read that the description should sound like a movie trailer (huh?). To be honest, I find writing these little descriptions harder than writing the actual book 🙂

Here it is:

Everyone has a limit…
…and Crystal is steadily getting closer to hers. She thought she could escape the SOT, but now they have her and there seems to be no way out. Some people think she has everything, but she knows she has nothing. Is she ever going to break free? And is the mysterious Juda a friend or foe?

Everyone is scared of something…
…and fear is the worst enemy of all. Crystal wants to hold on, but her fears enable the SOT to drag her to darker depths than she ever thought possible; depths from which she must claw her way back if she is ever going to regain her freedom.

The pressure is on, and Crystal must either fight or be broken. It all comes down to one question: Who will she surrender to?

Get your copy at Amazon UK, Amazon US & Smashwords.

Blessings,

Dayo.

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Cover Reveal: Surrender (Crystal 2)

Surrender2bI’m so excited today because I just received an ‘in progress’ version of my next book cover. I think it’s fab. It’s not the final version, as the designer is still working on it, but the final version won’t be hugely different. I think the model’s face might just be shadowed more as I like to leave how my character looks to the reader’s imagination.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to message me about ‘Searchlight’, I really appreciate it because Crystal’s series is a new direction for me. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s on Amazon UK, Amazon US and B&N (and lots of other places).

Surrender will be out once the designer finishes with the cover. Here’s the synopsis:

Everyone has a limit…

…and Crystal is steadily getting closer to hers. She thought she could escape the SOT, but now they have her and there seems to be no way out. Some people think she has everything, but she knows she has nothing. Is she ever going to break free? And is the mysterious Juda a friend or foe?

Everyone is scared of something…

…and fear is the worst enemy of all. Crystal wants to hold on, but her fears enable the SOT to drag her to darker depths than she ever thought possible; depths from which she must claw her way back if she is ever going to regain her freedom.

The pressure is on, and Crystal must either fight or be broken. It all comes down to one question: Who will she surrender to?

By the way it’s Christmas next week. Are you guys ready? I still have presents to buy; never organised, *sigh*.

Blessings.

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Announcing…Searchlight

SearchlightGuys,

I’ll come to what the picture to the left represents in a minute. First a quick update: I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been doing so much writing. I’ve noticed that when I’m writing a lot, I blog less. I guess the writing fulfills my need for creativity and I have nothing left to put into a blog. I’ve hit a few 10,000 word days over the past two and a half months. My record is 11,352 words in a day 🙂 I’m so loving it.

Anyway, I finished 4 books, and I started the fifth book, then stopped and thought, ‘I need to publish the first four’. My husband was like ‘yes, stop writing and start editing the books you’ve written and get them out there.’ So that’s what I’m doing.

I was editing Pressure (Book 4 of Pure Passion Series), but I’ve put it aside. Something is just not going well between me and that book. The last book I was like this with was Blurred Vision (Drew Ashley 2). I’m just not feeling Pressure. I think it’s a good book, and the message behind it is strong, and the character arc (the transformation the main character goes through) is heavy. And the male lead is lovely. But, I’ve set it aside for when I have the mental strength to face it.

So, I started editing ‘Searchlight’ which is book 1 of Crystal’s books. The image above is the image I think my husband is going to use for the books cover–I absolutely love it because it really represents the book. Remember Crystal? Lexi’s daughter? She was a child in the Beauty for Ashes series, but she’s grown up now. I have written the first three books of her series, and I’m 18,000 words into book 4. I’ve decided to stop and get books 1 to 3 out. I finished editing book 1 on Saturday and I’ve sent it to an editor, so it should be out in November.

Let me just warn you. Crystal’s series is dark. Searchlight (Book 1) is dark-ish. Surrender (Book 2) is extremely dark. I haven’t read Surrender yet, so I might change my opinion when I do that. But writing it was hard, and slightly painful. But I didn’t hold back because there are people out there who go through worse things that what Crystal went through. Don’t worry, it’s not domestic abuse like what Lexi went through. It’s SOT- related.

When I finished writing the Beauty for Ashes series, I got a number of emails from people wanting to know more about the SOT. Crystal’s series is all about the SOT. If you remember her as a toddler in Red Carpet and Refiner’s Fire, she liked to sing. Well, now she’s 18 and she’s in a band, and the SOT want her. Book one of the series is about the SOT forcing her to join them. Book two is about her trying to get out of the SOT. Books 3 – 7 are about her, and a bunch of ex-SOT members that leave with her, trying to bring down the SOT. The series is cross-genre: YA, NA, action/adventure, romance, suspense. It will be a gritty read.

If you’ve read Bondage (Pure Passion Series, Book 2), I kind of wrote that in preparation for writing this series. I wanted to see how people would respond to the cult and the dark themes. Crystal’s series is a bit similar to Bondage.

Anyway, I’ll stop going on about it. Here’s the synopsis for Searchlight (unedited):

A heart-rending tragedy. A passionate love. A firm resolution.

Ambition
For as long as Crystal remembers, she has wanted to be a singer.
For as long as she remembers, her parents have feared the SOT, a celebrity cult that will make you famous, but destroy you in the process.
When Luke, leader of the SOT, sets his sights on Crystal will Crystal have the courage to stand her ground, or will she give in?

Destruction
After the SOT deal a deadly blow, Crystal has no choice but to obey their orders to sign up for Searchlight. Searchlight is the biggest talent show on TV. With the SOT’s backing, Crystal could win, but is she willing to pay the price? When she unexpectedly finds love, she is afraid to pursue it for fear that darkly handsome Juda could become an SOT target, too.
At Searchlight, her dreams and nightmares collide. According to Juda, it’s the darkest places that need light the most, but the SOT is much darker than Crystal imagined.

Heartbreak
Not everything is what it seems to be, and not everyone is who they say they are. Crystal is tough, but she’s only human. There’s only so much heartache and betrayal one girl can take.
Then she is tested, and she is forced to make a choice.
It’s a choice between light and darkness.
Good and evil.
Faith and despair.
But choosing God, might mean choosing death.

The SOT is back, and this time they mean business! Lexi escaped. Will her daughter, Crystal?

***Fans of the popular Beauty for Ashes Series, by the same author, will love this new novel, which focuses on supermodel, Lexi Washington’s daughter.***

You will be shocked. You will be drawn in. You will be entertained. The only thing you won’t be is bored.

Let me know what you think guys. I get told that my book descriptions are boring, so we tried to switch things up a bit for this one. Tried to make it sound more like a movie trailer, lol. Does it work?

Beauty for Ashes Series

Going Au Naturel

beautyIn Red Carpet, Lexi has a break from her work as a model and enjoys just relaxing in her dad’s old shirts and a pair of worn sweatpants:

I flung off my Nike sneakers and sprawled out on Monica’s couch. It felt good to hang out in old sweatpants, one of my dad’s old shirts, and no makeup. I felt more like me. The blond-haired woman with the sultry smile that I saw on TV and smiling from magazine covers was not me. (Red Carpet – beauty for ashes book 2, by Dayo Benson).

I had a taste of this last week, but I didn’t think anything of it until Thursday when a friend told me about an email she received that listed the signs of stress. One of the items on the list was ‘lack of interest in your physical appearance.’ It made me laugh because all week I’d been au naturel. I always am anyway, but this was even more so. I didn’t bother with straightening my hair even once, I didn’t bother with all my special lotions, I didn’t bother with my nightly skincare routine. Each morning I just slapped on some moisturizer and the first outfit I laid my hands on and that was that (usually I consider a few different outfits before settling on one and my husband just doesn’t get why I do it. I don’t get it either tbh).

So, I tried to dig deep and work out if my sudden change was because of any kind of stress. It really wasn’t. I just couldn’t be bothered. And it was a conscious decision because nice hair means at least an additional 10 minutes in front of the mirror, and nice clothes means I have to iron, or colour code, or dig out a matching handbag, etc. And dewy skin means Lancome gets more of my money than they should. Thankfully they’ve stopped making the product I swear by so I’m delivered. (For those of you who want to know it was the T Zone gel).

And guess how I felt last week as I went about my daily business with my au naturel look? I felt so FREE!!!

I doubt it’ll last long though. It a woman’s nature to want to look somewhat nice. Either that or we’ve been conditioned to think we’ve got to look a certain way. Whatever it is, I’m not immune so I know I’ll be whipping out my hair products and everything soon, but it’s good to know I own those things, they don’t own me!

I think that sometimes it’s too easy for women to hide behind hair and makeup and stylish clothing. And I think it’s sad that society tries to equate our worth with how we appear. Okay, if I didn’t bother looking my absolute best today, why does that matter? It really shouldn’t. Should it?

Ladies, any similar experiences? Or do you feel more yourself after you’ve gone through the whole rigmarole? Lol.

God bless xx

Beauty for Ashes Series

A Real Life Lexi Dixon

Okay, I’ve never actually heard of Kylie Bisutti. Here in the UK Victoria’s Secret isn’t what it is in America, but we do know about it. I think there’s even a Victoria’s Secret store in London, and a few more scattered around the country. Anyway, Kylie B is apparently a Christian Victoria’s Secret model, or should say she was. Dunno if everybody already knows about this since it happened in February apparently (I’m a little behind the times!) but she quit, and said: “My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing…I didn’t really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.” Good for you Kylie B (For those interested, read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/192809/kylie-bisutti-christian-victorias-secret-model-quits/#A2B6Zd16tAGLXsTq.99)

She must have had the same concerns about it as Lexi did in my book Refiner’s Fire. This news warms me on two levels. 1. Lexi’s struggle was realistic (patting myself on the back, lol). 2. Kylie B must be feeling so relieved, and her Christian fans must be so encouraged to make decisions that might seem hard at first.

Anyway, the emails I’ve had over the past few months have been very touching, especially when they’re from young people who say ‘I was really encouraged by your books.’ Each time I read something like that I really feel the pressure to continue to write things that help people, and entertain them at the same time. In fact, I’m trying to move into writing more adult themes (not ‘adult’ as in ‘X-rated’ but as in ‘grown up’) but any time a young person emails me I feel like throwing out the books I’ve been working on and just writing a teen series.

I wrote Prodigal and Raw Deal when I was 19/20 so it was pretty natural for me to focus on teens. Then I had a break for a few years where I wasn’t able to complete a full book because I met my husband (although he wasn’t my husband then obviously) and everything else went out the window. C’mon who can focus on anything when you have a hunk to obsess over, lol. Anyway, so by the time I wrote Red Carpet and Refiner’s Fire I wasn’t in the teen fiction frame of mind anymore. I will write more teen books, in fact I have a series lined up for me to write later in the year or early next year (by God’s grace!), but I want to write about adults now. I’m so torn.

Anyway, I’ll post the first chapter of my next novel sometime over the next few weeks. Watch this space…

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Raw Deal FREE on Kindle!!!

Well, I’ve been finding  it pretty unfair that Amazon has been allowing the big publishers to make their authors’ kindle books free, but they haven’t been offering the same service to Indie Authors. Well, now they do, but only if you put your book in KDP Select, and only for 5 days. Well that’s good enough for me. Raw Deal is free for five days so go ahead and download it, if you haven’t already 🙂

So why would any author offer their book for free, after all the HARD WORK!! Yes it’s hard work, and it takes commitment to finish a book, but offering a book free means that people who wouldn’t normally read it, will. Everyone loves a freebie, right? So, potentially it could expand your audience, and maybe even minister to someone who on a normal day would rather die than download a Christian book.

I will keep you posted on any more of my books that might be free in future.

Download Raw Deal (in the UK)

Download Raw Deal (in the US)

Every blessing xx

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Refiner’s Fire

NOTE: DO NOT READ THIS POST IF YOU HAVEN’T READ RAW DEAL AND RED CARPET – LOTS OF SPOILERS!!!

Wow! I am so glad I’ve finished writing this series. You have no idea. I’m so happy that Lexi is done and dusted and I can start thinking up new characters.

So, what is the point of Refiner’s Fire? Well I’ve tried to portray how past mistakes can have consequences later in life, so that any young people (or older people) that read it will think twice about the decisions that they make. Lexi has to face up to her past, and it ain’t funny. I’ve also woven in (lol) an element of self-sacrifice. Sometimes, there are things in our lives that God wants us to give up. Lexi is holding on to something and God wants her to let go, but she’s struggling with it. Those are the two main points of this book, but of course most people that email me about this series want to know who Lexi ends up with i.e. which of the guys she eventually gets with. Well you finally get to find out in this book. By the way, I just feel I should warn you, this book had to be censored by my husband. It’s my first ‘romance-ish’ book, but I don’t think it’s too mushy. The epilogue is pretty cheesy and I have considered completely changing it, but I think I just need to stop obsessing. Anyway, let me remind you of the contenders for Lexi’s heart (in order of when Lexi met them):

Jace Washington

Heir to the Glacier Hotels and business man in his own right, Jace Washington is suave but still has an edge to him. Lexi has been crazy about him since high school, but he dumped her when he became a Christian. Could he be the one???

Carl Layton

Does Carl do a Lazarus and rise from the dead a changed man, and ready to treat Lexi right if she will marry him a second time? Lol!!!

Dan Black

Heir to the Billion Dollar business that is the Diamond Parlor, Dan Black is wealth and good looks personified. Lexi met him at college in Raw Deal and neither of them were saved at the time. In Red Carpet Lexi found out some shocking things about him. But is he the one???

Kyle Martins

Hip Hop singer Kyle Martins has a Christian background and he is pretty hot stuff. Does Lexi’s appreciation for the way Kyle teamed up with Jace to save her from the S.O.T. make Lexi fall head over heels in love with him? Do they hook up and live happily ever after shooting music videos together and traveling the world?

Frazer Lincoln

You guys have no idea who Frazer is. He’s a new guy that is introduced to Lexi in Refiner’s Fire and he is really sweet. The full package. He’s just not saved. But does he get saved and ask for Lexi’s hand in marriage?

Hmm, what a dilemma. At the end of Red Carpet Jace was engaged to Debbie Morris, and Lexi and Dan were kinda in Limbo. Will Lexi steal Jace away from Debbie or will Jace and Debbie approach her about having a polygamous marriage? Will Dan decide to propose to Lexi in public and cause her untold humiliation or will he tell Lexi that the resurrected Carl is her rightful husband? Will Kyle and Lexi elope in Vegas or will Kyle do something totally unforgivable that will make Lexi hate him forever? I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out…

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The Making of Beauty for Ashes

Before I give you all the juicy behind the scenes info that I’m sure you’re dying to read, let me just say that the characters from Beauty for Ashes have been living in my head for SIX YEARS and I am so glad I am finally done with them and can start thinking about new books and new characters! Yay!
Writing Timeline

I don’t know why Raw Deal took me so long to write and rewrite. I worked on it for five years, adding things, cutting things, and trying to make sure that it laid a good foundation for the series. Even now I’m not really satisfied with it as it’s still too long, but I guess I just need to stop obsessing.

Red Carpet took me about a month to write, maybe a bit more. I wrote the first hundred pages about four years ago and didn’t finish it because I was so hung up on Raw Deal. Anyway, when I got back to it a few months ago I just picked up from where I left off and decided that it was going to be written and I wasn’t going to obsess about it.

Refiner’s Fire was probably the least stressful. It was written in three weeks. I should say four but for one of those four weeks I had really bad writers block and couldn’t write, and started panicking thinking I wouldn’t be able to finish it. I know that sounds really dramatic, but the writers’ block was pretty serious. Someone needs to develop a medication for writers block, I swear! I knew everything that was going to happen in the book, but I just couldn’t get the words down. I’m not really sure why. Anyway, I drove my husband crazy about it and he was just like ‘well take a break from it’ but I didn’t want to. I wanted to get it written. Well, I took a break from it and a week later my creative juices were flowing again. Praises be!!!

Character Names

I am not good at finding names for characters. I tend to find out as I’m writing that I’ve given three characters the same name, or that some characters have the same surname and they’re not related. Anyway, Lexi Dixon was originally white, blond-haired, and blue eyed, and her name was Jessica Anderson, but I realised that she wasn’t edgy enough and I didn’t really care about her when she was Jessica Anderson. I have to care about my main character or I just get sick of writing about them and start trying to tear my hair out. You have my friend Elizabeth to thank for the fact that boring blond Jessica Anderson became exotic Cuban Lexi Dixon. She read half of one of the very first drafts of Raw Deal and went “Why is she so…” and I was like “so…what?” and she was like, “So…” So I thought I’d better do something about her.

Jessica Anderson was also British, and I realized that things would just get too complicated, because she and Monica wouldn’t have any history and she’d have to journal about her old friends in England and call them from time to time to make it realistic. And I didn’t feel like writing about old friends in England. So I made her American, but said she’d lived in England.

Another name that changed was Jace’s. He was originally Joshua. But I thought I’d call my next leading man Joshua (that’s a different book), so I just plucked a name out of the air.

Then there’s Jay (James) Black who I had to change to Dan Black because Jay was too similar to Jace and I didn’t want readers getting confused.

When I was writing Red Carpet I realized that there were three Williams: the youth leader in Bridge Community church, Lexi’s dad, and the male model that Lexi shoots a Diamond Parlor commercial with. So the youth leader became Mike, and the male model became Phil. Then I realised there were two Mikes, so Lexi’s mom’s new man became Sean. Then I realised there were two Seans. So Sean Cassidy became Dale Cassidy. And just when I thought the name drama was over. I realised that Xena Hurst and Gage Hurst might look like they’re married, so Xena Hurst became Xena Westwood. And that was that!

Oh yeah, the Glacier Hotel was originally the Diamond Glacier Hotel. I have no clue what I was thinking. Then I realized that it didn’t need to be called the Diamond Glacier,  it could just be called the Glacier. And just for the record, I have no clue what the S.O.T. stands for. They are a secret society and since I am not a member, I don’t know. Sorry, but I wanted them to be a mystery to me as well so if you were expecting a lofty philosophical explanation email me and I’ll make one up for you J

I was going to make Lexi’s Dad Will Dixon an S.O.T. grandmaster. Lexi was going to find out in Refiner’s Fire that he’d faked his death so that he could get more occult powers and rule world and become the antichrist. Lexi and her mom were going to be so heartbroken and their lives would’ve been endangered. Hmm, maybe another book.

I will add to this article as and when I remember any other juicy tidbits about the writing process for this series.

Beauty for Ashes Series

Red Carpet

Red Carpet is the second instalment of my Beauty for Ashes Series. I finished writing it last month, and it’s the first time I’ve written a book and didn’t put it through at least months and months of redrafting. I was actually happy with it when I was done, which is a first for me, lol!

I wrote this book because I wanted to portray the vulnerable state that most people are in. As Christians we tend to forget that people are people. Sometimes, I think that if we could approach evangelism from a caring, relational stance we’d be less scared of it. Evangelism is basically about loving people. Lexi Dixon is someone that appears ‘together’ and that looks like she ‘has it all’ so it would be easy for her Christian friends to just leave her and think she’s fine. Lexi isn’t fine, and she seriously needs God, but she’s not going to be receptive to Him if no one takes the time to maintain a relationship with her and draw her to Jesus bit by bit. Obviously not everyone needs this approach. I guess there are some people who need fire and brimstone (lol), some people are on their death bed and there’s no time to draw them to Christ bit by bit. So yeah, what I’m saying isn’t a one-size-fits-all, fool-proof mechanism, but it’s what some people, the Lexi Dixons of this world, need. Because most people are vulnerable and have deep-rooted pain that they smile through in order to look like they’re okay.

I love Monica’s role in this story because she plays the friend who although she is now a Christian and doesn’t want to be ‘best friends’ with Lexi (because of the whole ‘can two walk together except they be agreed’ thing) remains accessible to Lexi, and helps her out a lot. Monica has also decided that she isn’t going to ram the gospel down Lexi’s throat anymore, she’s just going to be there for her. I love Jace in this story too because he’s a little obnoxious sometimes.

New characters that I’ve introduced (who aren’t in Raw Deal) include hip hop singer Kyle Martins, supermodel Simone Rivers, and Lexi’s grandmother. There are others, but those three are the main ones.

Red Carpet is now available for download on Amazon. I had great feedback for Raw Deal, so I hope the feedback for this is even better. Personally, I am loving the cover, which my gorgeous husband designed. Anyway the synopsis is:

Lexi Dixon has gone from wallowing over the raw deal that she believed was her lot in life to living her red carpet dreams. She’s opening fashion shows for top designers at fashion week, doing photo shoots at exotic locations, and enduring three hours of makeup for ten-minute public appearances. She’s the talk of Tinsel town—for both good and bad reasons. But her life is not all glitz and glamor. 

Between all the lies in the papers, the crazy Paparazzi that keep following her, and her own personal issues, Lexi is sure she’s going to lose it, and it’s not going to be pretty when she does!

A shocking revelation about her father, a rival model who seems bent on sabotaging Lexi’s career, and a bizarre experience with a secret society cause Lexi to slow down to a pace where maybe she can look inward, and perhaps even upward!

Click here to read Red Carpet.

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Introducing Lexi Dixon

Raw Deal, book 1 of my beauty for ashes series, is finally available. Yay!!! The main character, Lexi Dixon, is an aspiring model. She is the kind of girl that you’d think ‘has it all’ but she is still searching for something…

Beauty for Ashes as a series deals with many themes: Life’s Purpose, God’s Sovereignty, Abortion, Marriage, Domestic Violence, Divorce, etc.  It took me 4 months to write, but went through 5 years of revision and redrafting. (Ok, I’m a perfectionist – I hold my hands up) Well, I am finally happy with the story line and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it; and hopefully you’ll ‘take something away’ after reading it too.

If you want to read Lexi’s story but don’t have a Kindle download the kindle app for free on your android phone, iphone, or other kind of smartphone. For the PC Kindle app click here. For the mac kindle app click here.

God Bless xx