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.

 Seal says hi. Throwback from our California vacation. What is your favorite vacation spot?  A slot canyon in a secret pocket of the San Rafael Swell area in southern Utah. (Antelope Canyon isn't the only place that looks like this...)  Some cactus flowers for your Sunday morning enjoyment....
 @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?  A little evening reading after work. What are you currently reading?⠀ ⠀ Book: THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by @leslyewalton  Looking forward to an evening of reading. What's something you're anticipating?⠀ ⠀ (Book: SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by @morgamat )
 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.  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?⠀
 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.)  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?⠀

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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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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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 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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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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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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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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The Trouble with Audiobooks

Warning: Moderately explicit imagery ahead. If you are young and impressionable, easily shocked, or my parents, feel free to move along. This morning I kicked off my list of errands with a stop at the fitness center, where I pounded out a 55-minute suffer fest on their diabolical machines. I find that ignoring exercise is the easiest way to get...
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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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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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