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.

 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?  Sundays are perfect for reading books & drinking tea. QOTD: How do you like to spend your Sundays? . Book: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by @sabaatahir. This one is actually signed thanks to my friend Rebecca (who's not yet on Instagram), so I've mostly been listening to the audio version in order to keep the hardback safe. The hardback is so pretty, though, that it begged for a photo. . Tea: A delicious, cold-steeped peach Ceylon from @adagioteas , sweetened with a bit of local honey.
 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.  In summer, our flower box is filled with day lilies. They're going to seed now. QOTD: Do you grow flowers? What kinds? . Currently reading: Wild Born by Brandon Mull  Goodbye, summer. See you after the snow melts. QOTD: What month(s) are you looking forward to? . AOTD: I actually love September and October for their cooler weather and fall colors. Plus they're perfect for curling up with a new book or, in my case, manuscript revisions. Not to mention how fun it is getting to know all my new students. But, truly, every month has something amazing about it, and I look forward to each one for different reasons. . I shot this one from the passenger seat of my husband's car as we left town for summer vacation. It seems so long ago now. Related: How IS it already September, anyway?
 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/⠀  Hey, look! I made a log cabin quilt, only with books. QOTD: Have you read any of these? What did you think? . Books in the picture: The King Slayer by @virgboecker Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher The Infinite Sea by @rickyancey Guile by Constance Cooper Landry Park by Bethany Hagen The Beautiful and the Cursed by @angie_page_morgan Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by @apriltucholke Flawed by @official_ceceliaahern The Peculiars by Maureen McQuerry Passionaries by @tonyahurley  Book mail is the best kind of mail -- especially when it brings a matching set of Harry Potter books and two Funko Pops. QOTD: What is your favorite book series? . AOTD: I've got to say, I'm definitely a Harry Potter fan -- especially since our whole family reads and discusses the books together. It's my husband and daughter's first time through the series, and I really enjoy listening to them make predictions -- some of which are surprisingly accurate, and some of which are totally off. Seeing it through their eyes is the closest I can get to reading the books all over again for the first time.
 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?  We spent the weekend camping near a flower-filled meadow. It was delightful. QOTD: Do you like to camp? . I took this one in the golden glow of the setting sun on our second evening out. We were in southeastern Colorado, near Dolores. I was late getting back for dinner, but I had my camera with me, and the field of flowers was too hard to resist. . Currently reading: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (yet again). I just finished An Ember in the Ashes by @sabaatahir and loved it.  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!

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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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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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...
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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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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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Shh! Baby’s Sleeping.

I am sitting in our family room in the dark, listening to my baby cry in her nursery, just as I have for the last hour. At ten months we are finally, supposedly, teaching her to fall asleep on her own, and apparently it involves tears. Her torment is incessant, a tide of misery building into giant, shuddering sobbing fits and then subsiding, only...
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A Warning

Dear Spring: We would like to thank you for your continued years of faithful service. Your performance has been unfailingly cheerful and, at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, your grooming beautifies the place. However, it has come to our attention that your lack of consistency has caused a number of problems, especially in the areas of...
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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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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...
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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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