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.

 This heart-shaped leaf caught my eye while I was out hiking. Autumn is such a lovely time of year.  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?
 CHAPTER ONE. (Are there any better words in the English language?)⠀ ⠀ (Book: DISSONANCE by @erica_orourke)⠀  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
 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?

Snails in Brown Uniforms and Kidnapping Mothers

I'm antsy in a way I haven't been since I believed in Santa Claus. This year for my birthday my family members pooled their money to allow me to purchase my first ever big-girl camera. Well, the first I've owned since the ancient Minolta I perma-borrowed from my parents when I was on my high school newspaper staff, then handed over to my brother...
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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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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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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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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 I'd hold up my notebook or stack of papers, maybe even a...
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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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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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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 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 inconvenient time/place....
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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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