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.

 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/⠀
 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!  One grey pebble on a cozy beach near Watsonville, California. QOTD: What is your favorite reading spot? . AOTD: While I have no need to go into the water, I love to sit in the sand; watch the ocean; and write, read, or brainstorm plots and characters for my novels. What about you?
 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.)  There's nothing cozier than a book, a quilt, and a cup of tea. QOTD: What are you currently reading?

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...
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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...
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Table for One

“Just…one?” The hostess eyes me, a long sweeping look, as if trying to figure out what’s wrong with me that I have to eat out alone. I used to answer, “Yep!” with a smile, all peppy and bright and for God’s sake don’t look at me like that, I have lots of friends, I’m fine, I’m great. Or...
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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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Concrete Nights and Marshmallow Mornings

These days I’m finding it unusually hard to get out of bed. It’s not the time change, hateful and inhumane though it is. And it’s not that I spend each sleeping minute lumped upon by three dead-weight felines, whose combined corpulence equals thirty-six pounds of purring, furry, gelatinous cat. No. It’s the fact that our...
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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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Anybody Want a Cat? Or Three?

Free to good any home: Three moon-drunk felines weighing a total of thirty pounds. Can be separated, but extra vocalizations ensue when two youngest are apart. Special skills/talents: pitiful looks, persistence, precociousness, curiosity, ability to jump long distances, enthusiasm, admirable dedication to chasing computer cursors and wrestling...
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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 to Use a “Resealable” Bag

Oh, dear. You’ve really done it, haven’t you? You just fell prey to one of consumerism’s biggest myths — the resealable bag — and now you’re staring at your new purchase, wondering how to get the thing open. What was it? Cheese? Cereal? Doggie treats? Come on, you can confide in me. Well, no matter what it was, let me tell you a little secret....
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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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