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.

 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?⠀  Having a lovely morning brainstorming stories in my rather appropriate @journalingjane notebook. QOTD: What does your favorite notebook look like? (Come on. You know you have one!)  a.k.a. Fate Can Be Such a Pain Sometimes. QOTD: What's your current read? Tell me about it!⠀
 About to bloom! Sometimes the scariest-looking plants make the prettiest flowers.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What do you have planned for the upcoming weekend?  National monuments are too often undervalued, especially when compared with official national parks. Cedar Breaks National Monument, in western Utah, is one of my favorites -- especially at sunset.⠀ ⠀ QOTD: Have you visited many national monuments? Which one is your favorite?  Prince's Plume flowers blooming at Dead Horse Point State Park in Southeastern Utah. QOTD: What's your favorite place to find flowers?
 I just finished listening to WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by @sandhyamenonbooks on audio, and it's just as amazing as everyone said. I loved the humor, the romance, the characters, the cultural references -- all of it! And I must say, I'm glad I listened to the audio version, because the readers were fantastic, adding even more depth to the story. Well worth the listen! Now I just have to decide what book to listen to next... QOTD: What's your favorite audiobook?  You guys! I just finished LOVE AT FIRST INK by @bridgidgallagher and it is so good! My favorite type of romance -- enemies-to-lovers, with tons of humor and heart. And the description is amazing; I felt as if I were right there with Elle and Justin. If you're looking for a sweet romance with a laugh-out-loud voice, I highly recommend this one!⠀ ⠀ QOTD: Do you like romance? What are some of your favorites?  All I wanted was to do a little second-draft brainstorming on my WIP in my new @journalingjane notebook. But now my cat has stolen my supplies and is holding them for ransom. The payment? Petting, of course. Which I can't do while writing. Dilemmas, dilemmas!⠀ ⠀ QOTD: What keeps YOU from writing some days?
 July is peach season, at least on the tree in our backyard. QOTD: What is your favorite fruit?  Day lily gone to seed in our flower box. Perhaps will have even more lilies next year?⠀ ⠀ QOTD: Do you have garden? What do you grow in it?  And on the subject of poppies... QOTD: What do you like best about summer?

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Word Nerd

In seventh grade, in the back of my parents' car, on the way home from another disastrous school-wide dance, my friend Rebekah and I lied to each other in the nicest possible way. "Nerds," we told ourselves, "Are awesome." They were the most misunderstood subgroup in the high school hierarchy. Everyone should want to be one. Those snotty popular...
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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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