Caryn Caldwell

Caryn Caldwell

M.G./Y.A. Writer

Hi! I’m Caryn Caldwell. I write the kind of M.G. and Y.A. novels I loved as a teen — filled with humor, mayhem, and adventure. Sometimes there’s romance, too. My books are repped by the fabulous Danielle Barthel and Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.

I also take photos. Lots of them. (It’s kind of an obsession.)

I live in the Utah desert with my husband, daughtertwo cats, and a pair of guinea pigs. During the summers I try to avoid the heat; the rest of the year I tutor an adorable and enthusiastic flock of K-2nd grade students. As long as I can still get some writing in each day, all is well.

Still curious? Learn more about me here.

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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Inspiration from Author Lori M. Lee + Giveaway

I’m thrilled to have the fabulous Lori M. Lee on the blog today. She’s celebrating her latest release, The Infinite. It’s the follow-up to the action-packed Gates of Thread and Stone (which I LOVE), and it’s burning a hole in my Kindle even as I type this because I’m dying to start reading it. The Infinite looks just...
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Chat with Suzie Townsend & Danielle Barthel of New Leaf Literary (Part II)

UPDATE: Great news! The fantabulous Danielle Barthel is now officially taking queries. Find query instructions here, her New Leaf profile here, and her Pinterest MSWL board here. First of all, the winners of the query critique giveaway from the previous post have been contacted. Thank you to all who participated! And now to continue our chat with...
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Chat with Suzie Townsend & Danielle Barthel of New Leaf Literary (Part I)

UPDATE: Great news! The fantabulous Danielle Barthel is now officially taking queries. Find query instructions here, her New Leaf profile here, and her Pinterest MSWL board here. I have a special treat for you: the first installment of a two-part chat with agent Suzie Townsend and assistant Danielle Barthel (Bar-THELL) of New Leaf Literary &...
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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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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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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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Don’t Look Down: On Writing a First Draft

Here’s the thing about first drafts: They are fun, but they are also scary. They are messy and muddled and awkward and hard. They have no guarantee. And they can make perfectionists like me very, very uncomfortable. But they are worth it for the times when everything works and, anyway, they have to be done in order to get to revisions. Even...
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Giant Mutant Tomatoes from Our Space

In retrospect, the fertilizer might not have been a good idea. Over the last few weeks, this summer’s garden plot has become a very scary place. We’ve been overrun by groping vines and in-your-face leaves. Melon sprawl and wall-to-wall carrot carnage. Sweet pea forests. Six-pound marbled orange beefsteaks. Eggplants that grow like...
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Snack Envy

I had forgotten how good graham crackers could taste. And Cheerios, and Goldfish, and animal crackers, and every other crunchy, carby kid food. Until I had a toddler. It’s not just the flavor, either. It’s the crackly bag, the tantalizing smell, the convenient thereness. Irresistible. And I can’t eat any of it. Not if I want my morning milk,...
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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...
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I Want That Job! (Or, What I Learned About Careers by Watching Movies)

Considering a career change? Need a job for a character in your next novel? No need to ask an actual person for his or her job description. Just watch movies. According to Hollywood, here’s what a variety of different jobs entail: Subway/Train Conductor: Look horrified while pulling ineffectively at the brakes. Random Politician: Gaze...
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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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Guest Post: How Dr. Frankenstein Inspired Two Totally Hot YA Heroes

Please welcome Liz Reinhardt! Not only is she one of my favorite bloggers, but I’m lucky to have her as a critique partner, too. She just published her first novel, a YA romance featuring snappy dialogue, a love triangle, to-die-for heroes (two of them!), and lots of humor. It’s the first in a trilogy, and is already netting some...
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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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Let's Connect!

 Summer is for fruit. I could live on peaches, but I'll take pears, strawberries, cherries -- anything at all! QOTD: What's your favorite fruit?  I was aiming for a picture of this flower with the setting sun shining through it -- and then a bee landed inside.  Gazing upstream while rafting down the Colorado River last summer. Sometimes looking back can be a good thing. What's a memory you love to look back on? Thanks for the fun trip, @bridgidgallagher @quacktaculaura, and @hwilkowske! Let's do it again soon. . . PHOTO DETAILS: Taken last summer on my iPhone 5. Edited in Snapseed. Mayfair overtop at lowered opacity.
 In case we weren't feeling rural enough, we now have two baby mule deer and their mom living in our back yard. This is Ramona at six days old. The other fawn is, of course, Beezus. I've always wanted to see a fawn up-close, and now that has happened. Have you had any close encounters with wild animals? NOTE: Photo zoomed in; we don't want to get too close to these gorgeous wild animals. They are not pets, and we don't want to habituate them to humans too much.  This blustery, lukewarm, soon-to-be-stormy day seemed perfect for tea, a book, and photo experimentation. More specifically, I wanted to try the flatlay style I've been seeing around lately...but with a twist. While I *love* the clean look that comes with a white background, I was in more of a pink mood. I also kind of liked the shadows, so I chose not to brighten them out as often happens in flatlays. VERDICT: This was a fun experiment, and one I'll probably try again. (Though with some other twist next time, I'm sure!) What photography styles do you like to (or want to!) experiment with? . ELEMENT DETAILS (since I always love to read them when others post them): The book is THE JOY OF HALF A COOKIE by Jean Kristeller. I've been into mindfulness lately, and this one focuses on making mindful choices about food. I'm 49 pages in, and it's very well-done so far. The infusers are from Dimples Excel (Amazon). They're so much fun to use, and I love how shiny they are and how much room they have. This particular tea is Ceylon peach from @adagioteas. (I admit it; I'm an Adagio addict). I love it cold-steeped overnight in my refrigerator, but I forgot last night, so this cup's warm. Thank goodness it's a (moderately) chilly day! Using posterboard underneath was a suggestion by @bridgidgallagher (though I picked the color). (Seriously, though, check out @bridgidgallagher on Instagram. She takes GORGEOUS flatlays. I'm frankly envious, and I want to be her when I grow up.) . PHOTO DETAILS (since I love to read those, too): Taken in my kitchen, under my skylight, with the Camera+ photo app on my iPhone 5. (Love the way the Camera+ app shows details, and it's so easy to work with.) Edited in @Snapseed_app. Walden filter overtop, 1/2 opacity.  I love poppy season. (And lilac season. And sunflower season. And...) What are your favorite flowers? . . . EDITING DETAILS: I had to lie on the ground for this one so I could get the sky in the background. There were a few misfires as the wind kept blowing the poppy out of the frame the moment I snapped a new photo. Taken on my iPhone 5 using the Camera+ macro setting. (Love how well it works!) Edited in Snapseed and Instagram. Skyline filer overtop, at lowered opacity.

Caryn's bookshelf: read

The Polar Bear Piper
A family of polar bears has shown up in Arendelle and is causing havoc every — from the bakery to the laundromat to the docks. Arendelle may be cold and snowy, but it doesn't usually attract polar bears. Where did these creatures come f…

 

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