Welcome!

Hi! I’m Caryn Caldwell. I live in the desert with my husband and daughter, plus several armloads of fluffy cats and sweet guinea pigs. When I’m not out hiking with my family, I write middle grade and young adult books, and am represented by Danielle Barthel and Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. Learn more about me here.

 Prince's Plume flowers blooming at Dead Horse Point State Park in Southeastern Utah. QOTD: What's your favorite place to find flowers?  Secret pothole near Moab, Utah. Discovered by my husband, who was kind enough to hike me up there. QOTD: What's YOUR favorite hiking spot?⠀ ⠀ AOTD: It depends on the season. During the summer I prefer the mountains because they're cooler, but the rest of the year I love the desert -- the less crowded the spot, the better. What about you? ⠀ CURRENTLY READING: The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas ( @acwrites ). It's intense and important and SO GOOD! Also Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf ( @dasrobbwolf ), Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Because you can never be reading too many books at once, and variety is fun.  Our day lily leaves are starting to fill in for the year. QOTD: What flowers do you most like to grow? ⠀ ⠀ AOTD: I'm not sure! I do like our day lilies and am excited for them to finally bloom. (These are a previous year's flowers.) Still, my favorites have to be the flowers on our fruit trees because they mean we have a harvest to look forward to.⠀ ⠀ CURRENTLY READING: The Inquisitor's Tale (Or, Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog) by Adam Gidiwitz. I just started, but it's good so far. What are you reading?⠀ ⠀ And, finally, please excuse my rather extended absence. This past winter was quite...eventful. I look forward to posting more regularly, and I am especially excited to begin visiting all of you again!
 All I wanted was to do a little second-draft brainstorming on my WIP in my new @journalingjane notebook. But now my cat has stolen my supplies and is holding them for ransom. The payment? Petting, of course. Which I can't do while writing. Dilemmas, dilemmas!⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What keeps YOU from writing some days?  Spring seems like the perfect time to learn to draw flowers. QOTD: What, if anything, do you most like to draw?⠀ ⠀ Book: 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip (and 44 other Fabulous Flowers) by @lisacongdon⠀ ⠀ CURRENTLY READING: Love at First Ink by @bridgidgallagher. It is SO GOOD, you guys! Fun and romantic and hilarious. Definitely recommended.  My daughter has three birthday parties to attend this weekend, which means I get some time to myself to read and drink tea. (That IS how parenting works, right? She gets parties, so I get books? She gets cake, so I get tea? If not, don't tell me; I don't want to know.)
 And on the subject of poppies... QOTD: What do you like best about summer?  Daughter + kitty, gazing out into the backyard. I love these girls. Always will. ⠀ ⠀ QOTD: Tell me about your pet(s)!  Why, hello there, autumn. QOTD: What do you like best about fall?⠀ ⠀ AOTD: I can't possibly narrow it down to one thing. I love the autumn leaves, of course. And the crisp smell of the air. And the sound of the ravens congregating in our yard. And getting out my cozy sweaters to wear. And having the excuse to read and read and read. And, well, so many other things!⠀ ⠀ Photo details: Taken in the autumn-drenched La Sal Mountains of southeastern Utah while an evening storm drifts in.⠀ ⠀ Currently reading: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar.
 Confession: Posting this one makes me feel rather nervous and vulnerable since I've never shared my drawings in a public forum before. Still, I wanted to show a follow-up from 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip (profiled in my previous Bookstagram post). This is a very early attempt at learning to draw poppies -- my mom's favorite flower -- in the hopes of one day giving her something more practiced and sophisticated. It is far from flawless, but my intentions are true. Thank you, @lisacongdon and @creativebug, for the art inspiration! Drawn with @fabercastellglobal pens on watercolor paper -- to be filled in with watercolor as time permits. There's more to say about my art journey, but I'll save that for another day...  Flying Lessons and Other Stories is so good -- emotional and beautiful and diverse. I can't wait to introduce it to my older library students. QOTD: Do you enjoy short stories?⠀ ⠀ AOTD: I usually read entire novels, but short stories can be gratifying, especially when I only have a short time to read. Anthologies like this are a great way to get to know previously-unread authors, too. Plus the bite-sized pieces make them easier to share with my fifty-minute library classes.  I'm loving this new mug from the @enchantedprints Etsy store. QOTD: What does your favorite mug look like?⠀ ⠀ Books in the photo:⠀ ⠀ * PIPER MORGAN IN CHARGE by Stephanie Faris / @stephfaris ⠀ ⠀ * EVERYTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Mandy Hubbard⠀ ⠀ * SHUFFLE, REPEAT by Jen Klein / @jenkleinbooks/⠀ ⠀ * PIPER MORGAN JOINS THE CIRCUS by Stephanie Faris / @stephfaris ⠀ ⠀ * HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Jennifer E. Smith / @jenniferesmith/⠀

41 Ways to Conquer Writer’s Block

For the past several years I have volunteered at the local high school, advising a number of very talented students in the creative writing club. This year I mentioned NaNoWriMo to several of them. Word spread, and now we have a large group of students who are all determined to write an entire novel this month. Only problem? Some of them had no...
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Imagine, if You Will…

The other day someone referred to me as “creative”, and that got me thinking. Most of the time, I’m grateful for my imagination. It’s gotten me through many a meeting without having to spike my ubiquitous water bottle with something clear, strong and illegal in Utah. But it’s also responsible for such weird quirks as my never falling...
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How To Plot a Book in 16 Steps

I’ve recently entered the brainstorming stage of my next book. It’s a fun, crazy time. Sometimes my mood is rainbows. Sometimes it’s angst. Right now my mood wants lists (as it often does), so here you go: a step-by-step guide to plotting a book. All you writers out there, this is for you. You’re welcome. 1. Find the most...
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On Finding an Agent (or Two): A Post with Pictures for the Visually Curious

Last April I broke up with my agent of nearly three years. It was necessary, and risky, and terrifying. It meant leaving the only person in publishing who’d thus far agreed to champion my work, in order to find someone else who would, you know, champion my work. Writing that message was hard. It couldn’t be undone, and there was no...
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The Trouble with Audiobooks

Warning: Moderately explicit imagery ahead. If you are young and impressionable, easily shocked, or my parents, feel free to move along. This morning I kicked off my list of errands with a stop at the fitness center, where I pounded out a 55-minute suffer fest on their diabolical machines. I find that ignoring exercise is the easiest way to get...
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How (Not) to Cook Oatmeal in the Microwave: A Sort-of (But Not Really) Tutorial

1) Carefully read instructions on oatmeal packet. This time you will do it right. For once, breakfast won’t end in messy defeat. 2) Stir together milk and oatmeal. 3) Set microwave according to directions. Hide pre-victory grin. Whistle. Exude confidence. 4) Watch oatmeal spin on tray, ready to halt all cooking at first sign of boilage....
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The Time I Almost Went to Art School (Except I Had No Talent)

When my brother and I were children, my parents believed in nurturing our talents and helping us become whatever we wanted to be. Kindergarteners have a very small skill set, but they get to paint a lot, so one September day I brought home a roll of manila paper. It was heavy with paint, damp and creased from where my fingers clutched it on the...
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Shh! Baby’s Sleeping.

I am sitting in our family room in the dark, listening to my baby cry in her nursery, just as I have for the last hour. At ten months we are finally, supposedly, teaching her to fall asleep on her own, and apparently it involves tears. Her torment is incessant, a tide of misery building into giant, shuddering sobbing fits and then subsiding, only...
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Carrot Cubes, Green Pea Puree and Other Baby Food Misadventures

Somewhere between buying thirty-six cloth diapers for Sunshine and committing to what our local Target calls ‘natural feeding’ (because some people consider ‘breast’ a terrible word) I heard about the wonders of making your own baby food. The magazine article claimed it was Easy! Wholesome! Cheap! Fun! And Totally Not...
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The Art of De-Collecting

Other than the occasional college hand-me-down, garage sale find, or unnecessary kitchen appliance, my main contribution to our household’s decorating scheme comes in book form. Hardcover, paperback, electronic – if you can read it, I’ve probably owned a copy. Sometimes two or three due to forgetfulness and a variety of...
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