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.

 Sometimes it's good to get a new angle on things. QOTD: What do you do when you need a new perspective -- in life or otherwise? . AOTD: Depending on the situation, I go for walks in nature, or read, or email my agent @debarthel, or talk with an insightful friend such as @heatherclarkbooks @bridgidgallagher @quacktaculaura. . The Colorado meadow where I took this photo was wet and puddled from a recent storm. Moral: sometimes you need to get a little muddy and uncomfortable in order to see things differently, but it's generally worth it. . Speaking of doing things a new way, this is my first post with the #plann app from @plannthat. I think I'm going to love it -- especially with its drag-and-drop organization. Yay for new perspectives!  The best evenings are spent hiking...or curled up on the couch with a good book. It's a toss-up, really. QOTD: What is your ideal evening? . Taken in the Windows section of Arches National Park while -- you guessed it -- hiking at sunset. (With a book in my backpack, because I ALWAYS have a book. I mean, you never know when you'll be stranded. Or bored. Or kidnapped. Or otherwise in need of printed entertainment.)  You can offer me a mansion with rose gardens galore, but I'd still choose our tiny house with its happy little peach tree in the backyard. QOTD: What do you love about where you live?
 Oh, how I love this book, and the audio version is performed SO well! QOTD: Do you listen to audiobooks? . Book: SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli / @beckyalbertalli . It's hilarious, suspenseful, swoony, heart-warming, and SO emotional -- all the best feels packed into one book! I listened to most of it in one afternoon while the rest of my family was out of the house, because I simply could not stop. I *had* to know if I'd figured out the mystery. HIGHLY recommended! More info in the next issue of my newsletter, THE BIBLIO FILES, which will be out in a couple of weeks. (Link in my bio.)  I like my books like I like my presents: unwrapped. QOTD: Yes or no to dust jackets on hardcover books? I take mine off while I read so they don't get damaged or in the way, though jacketed books look awfully pretty on the shelves. . Thank you, @heatherclarkbooks, for custom-making this gorgeous necklace! I wear it during every writing session. It is my conduit to inspiration. . Confession: I've been wanting to take a photo of this necklace and this mug all summer, and I chose the books to go with them instead of the other way around. (That's the way book pics are supposed to work, right? Props first, then book? Right!) . Books in the picture: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith / @jenniferesmith , The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill / @laurenmorrill , and Landry Park by Bethany Hagen.  You know how sometimes you go to take a picture of a sleeping cat, and the moment you focus on the kitty's eyes she wakes up and yawns? Yeah. That.
 Mornings are hard, but it helps when the sunrise behind our apricot tree is worth getting up for. QOTD: What's your favorite time of day?  I should probably say something witty and/or insightful about these daisies, which I found on a hike through SW Colorado, but I'm too distracted because...the first issue of my brand new newsletter, The Biblio Files, goes out TOMORROW! Yay!! I'm so excited!!! Have you signed up yet? Link in my bio. Let's be email friends. :-)  Is it autumn yet? *looks at thermometer.* Nope. Not yet. QOTD: What is your favorite season? . Photo taken a few autumns ago in the Manti-La Sal National Forest along the Utah-Colorado border. You know, back when it WASN'T 104 degrees...
 My six-year-old loves this book so much that she asked me to take a picture of her reading it. QOTD: What book was one of your childhood favorites? . Book: ANNA, BANANA, AND THE FRIENDSHIP SPLIT by Anica Mrose Rissi / @anicarissi. It addresses topics such as standing up for oneself, overcoming jealousy, and learning to forgive -- all in an entertaining, fun way that is sure to hook the attention of many early elementary kids. Definitely recommended, especially for girls who fear that having a backbone means they're -- gasp -- bossy. . See an outtake for this book shoot on my Twitter, @caryncaldwell. It's my daughter's idea of book styling. She chose Toaster for a filter because it was the most colorful. I kind of love her leave-nothing-out, make-it-all-rainbowy style.  Confession: I might be a liiiiiiiiiitle obsessed with school supplies. Pencils, pens, notebooks, you name it! QOTD: What's your favorite back-to-school item?  My daughter and I have been reading -- and loving! -- THE GIRL IN THE TOWER by Lisa Schroeder ( @lisaschroeder15 ). It's a tiny but powerful middle-grade book with a mighty heroine, a bittersweet backstory, and lovely writing. The deliciously whimsical illustrations by Nicoletta Ceccoli ( @nicolettaceccoli ) are the perfect complement to the text. The allusions to Rapunzel's story add even more to the fun. QOTD: What are you currently reading?

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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Lords of the Laptop

Sometimes it seems as if everybody wants to be a novelist. I’m sitting in my local coffee shop, where I retreated in order to — what else? — work on my own novel. The place is not crowded, but I count three others hiding behind their laptop screens. At the table beside mine, a man is explaining his screenplay’s entire...
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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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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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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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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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That Beautiful Blank Page

I’m working on a new novel. To be clear, by “working on” I mostly mean “gazing into space” and “playing computer solitaire”. On occasion, though, I do actual plotting. I’ve even created a few characters and half a premise. (Go, me! Woohoo!) The voice is jelling, the characters jabbering, the setting...
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Things I Won’t Blog About Today

I’ve decided not to blog today. I thought I’d announce this decision, so you’d know that you were being neglected, instead of just suspecting it. It’s a beautiful May morning, and I plan to enjoy it. But just so you know what you’re missing, I’ll fill you in on a few things you will won’t learn on here today. I won’t share my new secret...
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Dear Black & Decker: What Were You Thinking?

Setting up a new toaster oven should not under any circumstances require the following ingredients: 1) A plastic spoon 2) Four paper towels 3) All ten fingernails 4) Frequent misting of household chemicals 5) 28 minutes This goes double when above tools are necessary to forcibly remove a colorful, life-sized sticker whose only purpose is to tout...
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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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