Welcome!

Hey there. Thanks for stopping by. I’m Caryn Caldwell. I live in the deserts of the southwestern U.S. with my husband, daughter, and a lot of bookshelves. We are accompanied by 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 the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. Learn more about me here.

 Why, yes, sunflowers DO make good bookmarks. Why do you ask?⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What's the strangest thing you've used as a bookmark?⠀  Look! I fixed the flower after all the petals fell off. #allbetter #nailedit  A partially painted ink-and-watercolor piece inspired by 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip by @lisacongdon. I've found some wonderful ideas in the pages of this book.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What is the last nonfiction book you read?⠀
 After the darkness of the last few days -- last nine months, really -- I'm trying to appreciate the good things in the world. It renews my strength, my ability to fight for what is just. Today I am grateful for love, fresh cherries in my breakfast, good books, love, children's smiles, immersing myself in writing, love, laughter, mindfulness, LOVE. What are you grateful for today? What keeps you going when the fight exhausts you?  Is it autumn yet? No? ⠀ ⠀ Okay, I admit it; this photo is from a few years ago. In fact, when I got in my car to drive home from work this evening, my dashboard thermometer said it was a balmy 113 degrees. But soon enough the aspen trees in our mountains will be wearing their yellow leaves again -- or so I hope! ⠀ QOTD: What are your favorite autumn leaves?  About to bloom! Sometimes the scariest-looking plants make the prettiest flowers.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What do you have planned for the upcoming weekend?
 A little morning writing with my @journalingjane notebook.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: How do you like to start your mornings?  Summer flowers with my copy of the gorgeous and gripping book That Time I Joined the Circus by @jjhowardbooks.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What are you reading this weekend?  I just finished listening to WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by @sandhyamenonbooks on audio, and it's just as amazing as everyone said. I loved the humor, the romance, the characters, the cultural references -- all of it! And I must say, I'm glad I listened to the audio version, because the readers were fantastic, adding even more depth to the story. Well worth the listen! Now I just have to decide what book to listen to next... QOTD: What's your favorite audiobook?
 Cacti can grow in the unlikeliest of places. Be strong like that. Where would you grow if you could?  Meet Beatrix the guinea pig (a.k.a. Stormtrooper). Her hobbies include eating grass and leaves, begging for grass and leaves, and playing in...grass and leaves. (She has very diverse interests.) At 1 1/2 years old, she and her friend Chewbacca are my daughter's favorite Christmas present ever.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: Tell me about your pets!  July is peach season, at least on the tree in our backyard. QOTD: What is your favorite fruit?

Word Nerd

In seventh grade, in the back of my parents' car, on the way home from another disastrous school-wide dance, my friend Rebekah and I lied to each other in the nicest possible way. "Nerds," we told ourselves, "Are awesome." They were the most misunderstood subgroup in the high school hierarchy. Everyone should want to be one. Those snotty popular...
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Confessions of a Reading Addict

It began innocently enough: a brand new copy of Goodnight Moon and parents patient enough to read it to me night after night after night. But Goodnight Moon was the gateway drug for many of my generation, and I soon turned to more hard-core reads, such as Pickle-Chiffon Pie and Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth. In elementary school, our librarian fed...
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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 asleep in...
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The Burn

The bedroom door swings open, light from the hallway streaming in. The cats, who have been lumped on top of me, scatter, eyes wide and tails at half mast. "Sorry to wake you," says hubs from the doorway. He was not tired when I succumbed to sleep an hour before, and is still fully dressed and alert. "They said we might need to evacuate, so I...
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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. Squint a...
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My Mind Is Not Mine Own

I think I'm losing my mind. Even at the best of times my inner narrator provides an occasional play-by-play of my existence, but my current level of running commentary is reserved for the times when I'm almost exclusively absorbed in my writing, as I am now. The source of this narratus intrusionous? I spend hours recounting the lives of my...
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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 Messy At All! Since I'm into...
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15 Tips for Shooting & Editing Your Cell Phone Photos

Introduction By posting this I am not claiming to be an expert. Most everything I know about iphoneography is self-taught via luck, experimentation, and sheer stubbornness. (Laziness, too, since my DSLR is too heavy and bulky to come with me on many of my adventures.) Also, my tips may not apply to every device, since I use an iPhone for all...
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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 guarantee I...
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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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