An original voice for compelling ideas.


35th Anniversary Edition of The Winning Family

Big news! Book Launch!

The Winning Family: Where No One Has to Lose (Uplift Press) is back in print after over a decade. Rewritten for a new generation of parents, this book helps parents build families characterized by joy and satisfaction, not manipulation and guilt. Mothering Magazine called this book “uniquely inspiring and non-guilt-provoking,” and one reader called it, “better than years of therapy.” Anyone who has a family—or a relationship—will find this book worth a read.

The Winning Family: Where No One Has to Lose

paperback ISBN: 9781647045470 / $16.95
ebook ISBN: 9781647045463 / $4.95
FREE eBook excerpts

Order at Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon 

Kristen (Baumgardner) Caven, this year’s CWC Writer in Residence at Joaquin Miller Park, educates, entertains, and inspires her audiences with an extraordinary offering of books, presentations, performances, and events. The author of seven books, several plays, and an award winning cartoon collection, she applies positive psychology to her work strengthening communities through uplifting artistic expressions.


Books | Blogs | Classes | Events

Walkin’ with Joaquin

I #amwriting in the Oakland Hills, keeping the California Writers Club alive and well in its birthplace, Joaquin Miller Park. I’m working on a book about the poet based on my song,  and blogging about the history and happenings in this local happy place.

Subscribe to “Walkin’ with Joaquin” HERE!

A Space for Women

Watching a giant McUniversity swallow up my minority-serving historic women’s college alma mater was tragic—but nevertheless, we persist.

Directing my energies towards saving what I can of Mills: the community! We’ve revived the East Bay Mills Branch, and host monthly socials on campus!

Recent Posts:

A Family Business—and a Legacy

The Winning Family is back in print, with a fresh new energy and a fresh new voice: mine! I am ...
Read More


Maybe you've heard about the ill-concieved merger, um AGGRESSIVE CORPORATE ACQUISITION of Mills College? I've been working with various groups ...
Read More

“Bernice Bobs Her Head”

Check out my new story in the California Literary Review (page 36). Here's the back story! It all started as ...
Read More

More Blog Posts >>>



After bringing The Winning Family back to life in September, I’m working on a piece about my dad, whom I lost in 2022.

“My Father, Who Art in Heaven”

excerpt from the forthcoming essay,

I Let Him Call Me Sweetheart

On May 27th, 2022, my father Jan Frederick Baumgardner, for years a basso profundo with the Boulder Timberliners, joined the Barbershop Choir Invisible. He left me down by the Old Mill Stream. He left me crying, blue and sad—to be reunited with his mother, Luella Dehn, and his infant sister, Frances, who took their mom from Jan when he was eight. I imagine their embrace as a flash of light that healed the world. No woman ever loved him that much; I know that for a fact because I am a daughter and a mother. And because eight years was not long enough to breed contempt. And my grandmother is definitely in heaven. She was kind of a saint, from the way people talk about her.

He also got to see his brothers Carl Forest and Martin Baumgardner again, and their father John Baumgardner who, on the other side, is surely able to share his own love and deep gifts in purity and perfection beyond the spiky domino effect of life’s twists. I can imagine Dad’s childlike joy to see his aunties again: Mary, Martha, and Betty, a.k.a. Sister Mary Barnabus of the mystical, practical Benedictines. She eschewed marriage to watch over him with care and affection all his life; I remember him calling her every week. He’s with his beloved grandparents and so many other family members, and friends, and neighbors and associates from his hyperactive and extroverted time on the planet. I see him radiating good will and affection, his wit and insight benign and hitting every mark. In heaven, I would like to think you can be your very best self. And there he’s the father I’m proud and lucky to have walked this world with, sometimes even hand in hand.

Read Jan’s obituary and leave a note here