Spotlight & Giveaway: The Day Dream Cabin by Carolyn Brown

Posted December 10th, 2020 by in Blog, Spotlight / 53 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Carolyn Brown to HJ!

Hi Carolyn and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Day Dream Cabin!

Merry Christmas to all y’all!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Jayden wasn’t looking for closure for her problems, a family or even love when she went to Piney Wood Academy for wayward girls. She just hoped that by stepping in as a substitute counselor for her sister, that it would be a step in the two of them becoming closer. But as the eight weeks went by, she found that sometimes tough love is the best–whether for herself or for the girls she was responsible for. And that Elijah, the tough drill sergeant, had a good heart and she could depend on him.

Please share the opening lines of this book:

Some school years were just flat- out tougher than others.
“And this is one of them,” Jayden said to herself as she dropped her briefcase and tote bag inside her apartment door, laid her cell phone on the end table, and collapsed on the sofa. She threw a hand over her eyes to block the afternoon sun and dozed off for a well-deserved nap.


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • Mr. B, my son, Lemar, and I went on a research trip before I started this book. We had such a good time driving and plotting out this story.
  • When I first thought of the cabins, I was going to put a bathroom in each one, but then decided that it would be ‘tough love’ to make them use a community rest room that was quite a way from the cabin.
  • Imagine city girls having to feed hogs, and muck out horse stalls.


Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Jayden would do anything to make her sister love her, but it all seemed an impossible task. The thing that surprised me about her was that she finally figured out that she had to give her sister the same ‘tough love’ she gave the girls in her cabin if they were ever to have a sister relationship.
Elijah had a soft heart but he didn’t let it show. What surprised me about him was that he felt he could be himself around Jayden without fear of rejection.


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

I’d use this scene because it introduces the three counselors and Elijah to the readers.

Elijah didn’t enjoy flying anymore, but sometimes it was necessary. Every time he got into the small plane owned by Piney Wood, he remembered the missions he’d flown in a helicopter during his years in the air force. His eyes misted over at the memory of the three coffins that he and his teammates had accompanied home. His enlistment had been up, and he only needed one more hitch to get his twenty years for retirement. Yet when it came time for him to sign on the dotted line a couple of weeks after all their memorial services, he couldn’t force himself to do it, and neither could Buddy, Chuck, or Tim. His friends went home after the funerals, but and memorial services. Elijah had spent a month and a half of his savings right there in San Antonio, trying to figure out what to do with his life.
“I’ve always been bad luck. Anyone I get really close to dies,” he said out loud.
Bullcrap! Uncle Henry’s gravelly old voice was clear in his head.
That brought back the day that Uncle Henry had shown up on his monthly rental motel doorstep in San Antonio and told him to pack his bags.
“You’re going to work for me, and once you get yourself straightened out, you’ll be taking over my job when I retire,” he’d said.
“What makes you think I want to work with a bunch of rich, bitchy little girls?” Elijah had asked as he twisted the top off a beer.
“You’ve got to do something, and you might like it. Taxi is waiting—put that beer down. You’ll be flying us home to Alpine. I brought the plane down here, but it’s time for you to stop moping around and get on with your life.” Uncle Henry had left no room for argument.
Most of the fight had gone out of Elijah by then anyway. He’d shoved what clothing he had into a duffel bag, left the six-pack of beer in the refrigerator, and checked out of the motel. Looking back two years later, he didn’t regret his decision. There had definitely been something therapeutic about putting teenage girls back on the right track.
That first time he settled into the little company airplane, he’d sweat buckets. Nausea had come in waves, and he could swear that he smelled the blood of his buddies. Uncle Henry had laid a hand on his shoulder and said, “You can do this, Elijah. Not only can you do it, you need to fly again.”
He worried about being close to his aunt and uncle. Would being around him bring them bad luck, like it had his only brother, his parents, and now three of his best friends?
“So far, so good,” he muttered. But he wasn’t ready to think about any kind of relationship.
He landed his plane and climbed out to stretch his legs. He crossed the tarmac in long, easy strides and opened the door to the office to find his three passengers waiting with their suitcases beside them. Thank God they had only brought one piece of luggage each. His plane wouldn’t hold much more than that.
“Mornin’, ladies.” He nodded toward them.
“Good mornin’,” Diana and Novalene said in unison.
The third woman stood up and extended her hand. “I’m Jayden Bennett.”
“Elijah Thomas,” he said, looking her in the eyes, which his six-foot frame ordinarily prevented. She was almost as tall as Elijah. Her steely blue eyes held his gaze. Brunette hair floated on her shoulders. She sure didn’t look like someone who would be trying to help a group of girls work through their problems.
“You’re Skyler’s sister, right?” he asked.
“That’s right.” She smiled. “Kind of hard to believe.”
“It sure is,” Elijah said, “but thank you for taking your sister’s place.” He let go of her hand and turned to focus on the other counselors. “How’d your school year go, Diana?”
Diana had told him last year she only had about five more years until she could hang up her school cap and retire. The short woman had gray hair and brown eyes. She blamed her gray hair on more than thirty years of working with kids. She could be compassionate with her girls at the camp, but her voice could cut like steel when a girl needed correction.
He noticed that Jayden had sat back down and crossed one long leg over the other. How on earth could that striking woman be Skyler’s sister? Skyler was cute after a fashion, but Jayden would make any man turn and take a second glance.
He glanced over at Novalene. “I’m sure glad you didn’t retire like you said you were going to do when the session ended last year.”
“Retirement ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.” She settled a floppy hat onto her head. “I need some drama in my life.” She was around Diana’s height, but forty pounds lighter, and she kept her hair dyed stovepipe black. Her blue eyes could bore holes into a misbehaving kid, but by the end of the summer the year before, all three of her charges had cried when they had to say goodbye. “Jayden was just telling us that Skyler is going on a trip to Europe with her students from Glory Bound, but I guess you already knew that.”
Elijah nodded. “Yes, I did. Did y’all welcome Jayden to eight of the toughest and most rewarding weeks of her life?”


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I want them to realize that family doesn’t mean you share DNA with folks, and that sometimes you find love in the strangest of places.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?

I’m working on a women’s fiction right now that should be on the market in the winter of 2021.
Upcoming releases are:
March 2, A Chance Inheritance, a short Audible Original
Feb. 16: the Italian audible of The Barefoot Summer
April 6: Hummingbird Lane, women’s fiction
April 27: Love, Drunk Cowboy, reissue with a bonus novella
April 27: Summertime on the Ranch, a cowboy novella
June 29: Second Chance at Sunflower Ranch, a cowboy novel with a bonus novella
July 13: Small Town Charm, novella
The Hope Chest: Publication Date to be announced.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: I’ll give away two $10 Amazon gift cards. US only please.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Would you give up eight weeks of your summer to participate in a little wilderness therapy for wayward girls?

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Excerpt from The Day Dream Cabin:

Some school years were just flat- out tougher than others.
“And this is one of them,” Jayden said to herself as she dropped her briefcase and tote bag inside her apartment door, laid her cell phone on the end table, and collapsed on the sofa. She threw a hand over her eyes to block the afternoon sun and dozed off for a well-deserved nap.
She was awakened a few minutes later to her phone ringing right by her ear. Vowing that she might shoot whoever was on the other end, she answered it on the third ring without even checking to see who was calling. If it was a telemarketer, their earwax was about to boil.
“Hello,” she groaned.
“Hello, this is Mary Wilson from the Piney Wood Academy in Alpine, Texas,” a soft voice on the other end said.
Jayden held the phone out from her ear. Her finger was on the way to hit the end button when she remembered that place was where her sister, Skyler, had worked the past couple of years as a counselor for girls who were on probation. She put the phone back to her ear and sat up straight.
“Is this about Skyler?” she asked.
“Yes, in a way, I suppose it is,” Mary answered. “When she came to work here two years ago, she put you down as her emergency call person.”
“Is she sick?” Jayden hadn’t talked to her sister since Christmas. They’d exchanged small gifts and had a lunch together like always, and she hadn’t thought she would even hear from Skyler until the next year.
“No, but she was supposed to be here at the end of this week, and she offered your name as an alternative counselor. Our summer session starts next Monday, June first, and she called this morning to say that she was going to Europe with her church groupschool’s music group,” Mary said. “She’d put you down as an alternative counselor—we’re a pretty small outfit, so we always ask our team if they know anyone else who might work. We are hoping that you might consider filling in for her this summer.”
Wasn’t that just like her sister to put her down as next of kin and as a person who would take her place without even asking if it was all right? Jayden shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Skyler was the queen of the Bennett family, and Jayden was barely worthy to wipe the mud from her shoes.
“How soon would you have to know?” Jayden wasn’t sure where the words came from. She had thought to respectfully decline the offer from the second the woman told her about it.
“The sooner the better. We’d need to do a little vetting for the county beyond the clearance you get at for a school, so we’ll get started. We pay well and give you room and board for eight weeks. Of course, you will share a cabin with three girls, but it doesn’t cost you a dime.” Mary gave her an amount for the two weeks’ work.
She was stunned speechless. So that was why Skyler worked at the camp in the summer, —not because she was giving back to the girlshelping the girls who who needed her counseling, but for the money. And that was why she could afford so many fancy clothes and shoes. “Can I think about it until tomorrow, and would you send email me some material over the internet to study about the camp?”
“I’ll be glad to do that, along with the contract, your responsibilities if you take the job, and our website link,” Mary answered. “I’ll be looking forward to your call.”
“Yes, ma’am, and thanks for the offer,” Jayden said. “Bye, now.”
“Have a great day,” Mary said.
The call ended and Jayden fell back on the sofa again, but this time wide awake and ready to string up her petite, beautiful sister in the nearest scrub oak treestrangle her petite, beautiful sister. She jumped up and paced around her small living room floor. At her height and with her long stride, she could make the round in a short time.
And you thought nothing Skyler did could ever surprise you, the pesky voice in her head said, and it was so right.
Skyler had been three years old when Jayden was born, and from day one, she figured her younger sister had come into the world to wait on her. And that was pretty much exactly what Jayden did—most of the time to keep peace in the family, because Skyler could be a real stinker when she didn’t get her way.
Go get my shoes. Get out of my room. Don’t touch my makeup ever again—you’ll never be as pretty as I am. Knock before you come in my door. Don’t you say a word to me unless I ask you a question.
All those barbs came back to haunt her as she continued to pace. Why should she do anything so that Skyler could go to Europe for the summer? She stopped dead in her tracks. Skyler was going. She must already have tickets.
Jayden was still trying to decide what to do when her doorbell rang.
“Dammit!” she swore as she headed that way. “No rest for the wicked, I guess.” She slung the door open to find her sister only a few feet in front of her. Dressed in cute little lace shorty-shorts and a skintight pink tank top with matching wedge-heeled sandals, she smiled at Jayden.
Skyler never wasted smiles. She used those and tears when she wanted something.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Skyler’s sugar-sweet tone didn’t fool Jayden one bit.
“Of course.” Jayden stepped to the side. “Come right in. Don’t mind the mess. I just finished up my school year and haven’t gotten my things put away. Would you like a bottle of water or a beer?”
“Beer is too fattening for me.” Skyler let her blue eyes travel from Jayden’s toes to the top of her sister’s head. “Have you put on a few pounds since Christmas?”
“Maybe,” Jayden said. “I don’t worry about that. Water, then?”
Skyler brushed the sofa cushion before she sat down. “Nothing for me. I just had a diet soda.”
You will not intimidate me. Jayden repeated the phrase half a dozen times as she took a seat on her recliner and popped up the footrest.
“I’m going to Europe with my school’s history classesmusic group,” Skyler said.
“When are you leaving?” Jayden decided on the spur of the moment to play dumb.
“Monday morning. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and I just can’t give it up. We plan on seeing the Vatican and traveling through England, France, Germany, and Italy. Our group will be singing in several churches while we’re there, and of course I’ll be helping them,” she said.
In addition to her birdlike figure, Skyler had been blessed with the ability to sing like a bird, too. Jayden could carry a tune, but she had never been as musically inclined as her sister.
“So, are you still a guidance counselor?” Skyler asked, tucking her blonde hair behind her ear.
“Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve been one for ten years,” Jayden answered. “And I’ve lived right here for every one of those years. You’ve never been here before. Why now?”
“We always saw each other at Mama’s house before she died, and . . .” Skyler shrugged. “I have my own life. You have yours. Our circles don’t . . .” She hesitated.
Mine doesn’t include fancy enough folks for you, Jayden thought.
“We each have our own worlds.” Skyler sighed. “I didn’t want to ask you to do something for me on the phone. You know that I’ve been working at the Piney Wood Academy every summer. Well, I kind of signed a contract for this year, and if I don’t have a replacement . . .” She let the sentence dangle.
Well, well, well, Mary didn’t mention that part, Jayden thought.
“Please,” Skyler begged with tears in her eyes. “I’ve already talked to Henry and Mary, the caretakers of the placecamp, and they’re fine with you stepping into my place. I put you down as an alternative counselor when I took the job. They might already have vetted you and everything. They do that sometimes.”
Jayden Bennett was tough as nails, but just like always the tough side of Jayden melted when Skyler turned on the tears.
The pesky little voice inside Jayden’s head said that if she did this for her sister, it might go a long way in mending the fences that had been torn down five years ago when their mother died. But she wasn’t quite ready to say that she would do it.
For the first time in Jayden’s thirty-one years, Skyler wanted something from her. Jayden could make her twist in the windsquirm for a little while, but that wouldn’t be right. Gramps always told her to do what she knew was right and not worry about those folks around her who were doing wrong.
“Tell me what I have to do if I agree.” Jayden sighed.
“Mary does the cooking, so you’ll have three meals a day, and Henry takes care of the grounds. You’ll be given the rule booklet when you get there,” Skyler answered. “Going to Europe has been a dream of mine forever and this might be my only chance.” She pulled a tissue from one of those tiny packages that she always carried in her purse and delicately blew her nose.
Skyler was always ladylike and prepared for anything. If Jayden were to have a crying jag—even a fake one—she’d have to go to the bathroom and blow her nose on a fistful of toilet paper. The walls wouldn’t be able to contain the elephantine noise.
“What’s the name of this place again? Where is it? And when do I have to show up?” Jayden continued to not know anything at all, and then added, “If I decide to do this for you, then I’d like to know a little more than just ‘Mary cooks and Henry takes care of the yards.’ Did you already tell the people at your school that you would go?”
Skyler squirmed in her place on the sofa just a little. “Well, I had to tell them one way or the other so they could get the plane tickets bought and travel arrangements taken care of.”
“And you’re waiting until now to ask me to take your place?” Jayden asked. “Why would you do that?”
“What else are you going to do all summer? Lay around and drink that fattening beer?” Like always, Skyler’s mean streak came out when she didn’t get her way.
“Drinking beer and reading romance novels actually sounds pretty good to me after the semesters I’ve had. I’ve had to play catch-up all year for the time we lost last spring with the virus,” Jayden told her.
“So have I,” Skyler whined. “I need this vacation. Glory Bound School has already bought my plane ticket, and they need me to help with the music, as well as be a counselor to the girls on the trip.”
“And the boys?” Jayden asked.
“David, the official music teacher, will serve in that place,” Skyler answered. “Are you going to do this or not?”
“Tell me more about who I’ll be working with if I do.” Jayden covered a yawn with her hand.
“Counselors are Novalene Kemper and Diana Jackson. Novalene is a retired school counselor and Diana is still working as one. Then there’s Mary and her husband, Henry. The camp itself is located northwest of Alpine, Texas. You don’t even have to worry about travel arrangements—just show up at the Grand Prairie Municipal Airport by ten o’clock on Sunday morning. The girls arrive on Monday. Elijah has a little six-person plane, and he’ll pick all three counselors up at the same time and fly y’all down there.”
“And who is Elijah?” Jayden asked.
“He’s kind of like the drill sergeant at the camp. He’s a good guy. He was in the air force before he came to work for Henry and Mary,” Skyler said. “If you do this for me, sister, I will owe you, big-time.”
Skyler must really want to go to Europe with a bunch of kids to pull out the sister card and to actually tell Jayden that she would owe her. Jayden wondered if there was more to this trip than her sister was admitting. Was this David fellow her new boyfriend?
“Yes, you will, and I will collect,” Jayden said.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

A headstrong woman discovers it’s never too late for change in New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown’s spirited novel about lost hope and second chances.

Substitute counselor for wayward teens isn’t how public-school teacher Jayden Bennett planned to spend her summer vacation. However reluctant, she’s hiking up her jeans and heading for remote Piney Wood Academy in north Texas. Two months. Seven days a week. Few amenities. And three troubled girls daring Jayden to make a difference. She understands what she’s up against. She has her own burdens to bear.

Jayden’s not in it alone. The devoted elderly couple who run Piney Wood trusts in Jayden’s tough-love approach to get the job done. So does drill instructor Elijah Thomas, whose hardened boot-camp hide conceals a heart broken one too many times. Jayden is making it beat again. For both of them, falling in love is a risk. Because all summers must come to an end.

But with each new sunrise on these rustic acres, Jayden discovers that Piney Wood is a last chance for her, too. And with so many lives in turnaround, a new beginning for everyone could be a dream come true.

Book Links: Amazon | B&NGoogle |

Meet the Author:

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Amazon and #1 Washington Post bestselling author and a RITA finalist. She is the author of more than 100 novels and several novellas. She’s a recipient of the Bookseller’s Best Award, and the prestigious Montlake Diamond Award, and also a three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Brown has been published for more than 20 years, and her books have been translated 19 foreign languages.
When she’s not writing, she likes to plot new stories in her backyard with her tom cat, Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, who protects the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |

53 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: The Day Dream Cabin by Carolyn Brown”

  1. Debbie P

    There is no way that I could do 8 weeks. It would be hard to do on week. But I would help out in other ways for sure.

  2. Jennifer Shiflett

    In theory it sounds good, but I am not outdoorsy at all. I went camping once, and said never again.

  3. Amy R

    Would you give up eight weeks of your summer to participate in a little wilderness therapy for wayward girls? No as I’m not good in the wilderness

  4. Jana Leah

    It would depend on how hot the area of the wilderness area is. Not a fan of being outside in high heat.

  5. Kay Garrett

    When I was younger and in better health – yes. Now, I’d say send them to me here. I live in the country and have plenty to teach them and how to survive by being able to maintain a home, do laundry and find their way around a kitchen. Then with free time, I can teach them the love of nature, photography and the joy of being in the country.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. laurieg72

    I love the outdoors and I think it is a worthy cause. Unfortunately my sister and I are busy assisting my 96 yo mother who has health issues and is living at home.

  7. Patricia B.

    Definitely. I have worked with children my whole life. In addition, I love the outdoor and have hiked, camped, and done day camps for years.

  8. Dawn Keenan

    I don’t think I would give up my summer…we live near the beach. I’d rather be there.

  9. Athena Graeme

    Are you kidding me? I’m a scout troop leader, them kids might be bad, but they’re my bad kids! LOL!

  10. Tina W

    Yes! I’ve actually done two one-week camping trips with at-risk girls before! (they did winter trips also, but I do. not. like the snow!)

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