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.

 Some cactus flowers for your Sunday morning enjoyment....  After the darkness of the last few days -- last nine months, really -- I'm trying to appreciate the good things in the world. It renews my strength, my ability to fight for what is just. Today I am grateful for love, fresh cherries in my breakfast, good books, love, children's smiles, immersing myself in writing, love, laughter, mindfulness, LOVE. What are you grateful for today? What keeps you going when the fight exhausts you?  Is it autumn yet? No? ⠀ ⠀ Okay, I admit it; this photo is from a few years ago. In fact, when I got in my car to drive home from work this evening, my dashboard thermometer said it was a balmy 113 degrees. But soon enough the aspen trees in our mountains will be wearing their yellow leaves again -- or so I hope! ⠀ QOTD: What are your favorite autumn leaves?
 Looking forward to an evening of reading. What's something you're anticipating?⠀ ⠀ (Book: SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by @morgamat )  A little morning writing with my @journalingjane notebook.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: How do you like to start your mornings?  Summer flowers with my copy of the gorgeous and gripping book That Time I Joined the Circus by @jjhowardbooks.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What are you reading this weekend?
 The view from a (very hot!) drive through the Nevada wilderness. The desert is full of life if you look closely enough. What's something you wish more people noticed?⠀  Cacti can grow in the unlikeliest of places. Be strong like that. Where would you grow if you could?  Meet Beatrix the guinea pig (a.k.a. Stormtrooper). Her hobbies include eating grass and leaves, begging for grass and leaves, and playing in...grass and leaves. (She has very diverse interests.) At 1 1/2 years old, she and her friend Chewbacca are my daughter's favorite Christmas present ever.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: Tell me about your pets!
 Why, yes, sunflowers DO make good bookmarks. Why do you ask?⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What's the strangest thing you've used as a bookmark?⠀  Look! I fixed the flower after all the petals fell off. #allbetter #nailedit  A partially painted ink-and-watercolor piece inspired by 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip by @lisacongdon. I've found some wonderful ideas in the pages of this book.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What is the last nonfiction book you read?⠀

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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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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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...
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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...
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I Am Unstoppable Now…Well, Once I Figure Out These Directions

When I was six, I thought grownuppery would happen at nine. At nine, I thought thirteen was the age of adulthood. At thirteen, I knew I was at the pinnacle of wisdom and maturity – if only my teachers and parents would acknowledge that I was their equal. Once I got over that assumption, I always aimed a few years ahead for the exact moment when I...
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Carrot Cubes, Green Pea Puree and Other Baby Food Misadventures

Somewhere between buying thirty-six cloth diapers for Sunshine and committing to what our local Target calls 'natural feeding' (because some people consider 'breast' a terrible word) I heard about the wonders of making your own baby food. The magazine article claimed it was Easy! Wholesome! Cheap! Fun! And Totally Not Messy At All! Since I'm into...
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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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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 on...
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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 settling in. It's starting to feel like a book....
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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 librarian fed...
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