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.

 Unread books, just waiting to be opened so the magic can spill out. QOTD: What's at the top of your TBR (to-be-read) pile?⠀ ⠀ #tbrpile #dftba #amreading #booknerdigans #alwaysreading ⠀  Writing essentials: A notebook, a pen, and a good pair of headphones. Not pictured: the @focusatwill music blasting through said headphones. QOTD: Do you listen to music when you write, draw, or do other creative pursuits?⠀ ⠀ #nanowrimo #amwriting #writinglife #dailymotivation #seekthesimplicity⠀  Fancy book spines are the very best kind -- like a delicious secret hiding under a book's dust jacket. QOTD: Which hidden book spine(s) do you admire?⠀ ⠀ Books in the photo: ⠀ Stone Field by Christy Lenzi⠀ Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen ( @authorbethanyhagen )⠀ Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau⠀ Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods ( @woodswrites )⠀ ⠀ #booklr #bookish #bookphotography #booknerdigans #amreading
 Hey there, human. Whatcha doin'?⠀ ⠀ #cateyes #cutekitty #kittyface #kittygram #realhousecats  Winter has its own sort of beauty; even the flowers look like snow.⠀ ⠀ #bokehful #bokehlicious #flowerlove #flowergram #macroflower⠀  Golden hour at an autumn pond in rural Colorado. I love evenings. QOTD: What is your favorite time of day?⠀ ⠀ #autumncolors #goneoutdoors #autumnmood #landscapelovers #optoutside⠀
 Once upon a time there were flowers growing in our garden. Until they return, I have photos to remind me of their delicate loveliness. QOTD: What is something you're looking forward to?⠀ ⠀ #amreading #booknerdigans #readingtime #readingweather #ilovereading⠀  I love the simplicity of page edges on fresh, clean books. QOTD: What are you reading today?⠀ ⠀ #booklr #booknerdigans #amreading #alwaysreading #booklove  I'm so excited for this new release by my dear friend Bridgid (@bridgidgallagher)! It feels like the perfect book to curl up with on an autumn afternoon. Book: Too Close to Home by Bridgid Gallagher. Link to purchase in @bridgidgallagher 's bio. ⠀ #bookstagram #booklr #amreading #readingtime #booknerdigans
 Ice plants in winter. It's only fitting, after all.⠀ ⠀ #upclose #bokehlicious #bokehful #iceplant #winter2017  The leaves have been clinging to their branches for weeks. Long autumns are the very best kind, though I wouldn't mind a little snow in time for the holidays. QOTD: Are you a fan of snow?⠀ ⠀ Currently reading: GRAY WOLF ISLAND by @traceyneithercott . It's so good, you guys! Eep! Can't wait to see what happens next.⠀ ⠀ #autumncolors #natureshot #autumnmood #takeahike #outdoornation  INSERT WITTY CAPTION HERE. ⠀ ⠀ No, really. These are my brother's neighbors' goats, and I'm too busy wishing I could pet them again to give them the caption they deserve. ⠀ ⠀ So please! Contribute in the comments below. Tag a few of your wittiest friends in a new comment, too, so they can contribute. (Wouldn't want them to feel as left-out as that poor goat in the background seems to be.)⠀ ⠀ When you're done captioning the goats, please slip a snack between the bars of their corral. They're partial to carrots and animal crackers, but let's be honest: even a moderately hungry goat will chomp on just about any foodish item. Thanks! I knew I could count on you. ⠀ ⠀ #goatstagram #goats #colorado #captionthis #studybreak

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...
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

A Field Guide to Insomnia – For Reals This Time

Well, that was embarrassing. A couple of days ago as I was typing up my bedside notes, I accidentally published a blog entry I'd written in the middle of the night. Then Sir Google the Vigilant picked up the post before I could erase it. And now it's out there forever, half-formed thoughts and clumsy midnight sentences and all, the draftiest...
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

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 gift-giving occasions. I...
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

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 new mattress pad begins...
Continue Reading

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...
Continue Reading

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 &...
Continue Reading

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 backstory to a red-haired...
Continue Reading