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.

 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  Seal says hi. Throwback from our California vacation. What is your favorite vacation spot?
 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  Morning sunlight. A fresh book. Flowers. Cozy quilt. And, off to the side, a purring cat. A perfect combo to start what promises to be a very busy week. ⠀ #booklr #booknerdigans #flashesofdelight #lifeissweet #ilovereading⠀  @BookRoo_Love delivery days are the best! This one brought ROCK-A-BYE ROOM by Susan Meyers (so sweet!) and LAND SHARK by Beth Ferry (hilarious!).⠀ ⠀ What are some of your favorite picture books?
 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⠀  Autumn in the mountains, tipping low-down leaves with frost.⠀ ⠀ #Mountainlife #bokehful #Goneoutdoors #optoutside #Outdoornation  I found this bee flitting from flower to flower while on a summer camping trip in Colorado. The mountains would be a little too cold for this kind of scene now.
 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  Autumn colors for a lovely autumn morning. What is your favorite color? Books in the picture: The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner ( @gaepol ) Guile by Constance Cooper Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman ( @peggyeddleman ) The DUFF by Kody Keplinger ( @kodykeplinger ) Summer of the Wolves by Polly Carlson-Voiles  This feels like a good evening for a little brainstorming on my new book. (Yay for the excitement of new stories! And for my @journalingjane notebook, which is perfect for today's plotting session.)

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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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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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...
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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...
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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 guarantee I...
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A Post About Repairs — Now With Photos!

Seems everything needed repairs this week. First there was an elderly but sturdy machine at work, which required my second-favorite set of instructions ever: the now-infamous page 36 from the vintage manual I keep in a nearby cupboard. Raise your hand if you had to stifle a juvenile snicker when you read the title above. Raise both if you were...
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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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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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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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