Tag Archives: Hazel Whitmore series

Writing Book Series

After writing “Old Promises” I found I’d left Hazel and her mother in the middle of everything. Somehow I’d found I was writing a book series without meaning to.

Series are very popular with writers. If readers like a series, they look forward to the next book. The series sells. And writers do need to sell books to support their writing habit.

cover for Broken Promises, Hazel Whitmore #1 by Karen GoatKeeper
The first book in the Hazel Whitmore trilogy introduces Hazel as she deals with grief and bullying in New York City.

The ending of “Old Promises” was based on a crime committed many, many years ago in Dover, Arkansas. In the third Hazel Whitmore novel I imagined what might have happened afterwards with the characters in the two books.

Right away I had problems. Writing book series requires lots of notes about the characters, the plots, the settings. Every detail must be right in every following book.

Old Promises, Hazel Whitmore #2 by Karen GoatKeeper started me writing book series
In this second book about Hazel Whitmore, she moves to rural Missouri only to find she is in the middle of a family feud.

I did not have those copious notes as I never intended to keep writing about Hazel. All my other books had been single novels.

So I read the first two books making up those copious notes. Then I started writing “Mistaken Promises” with the premise that someone didn’t believe Hazel didn’t cause all the problems that came to a disastrous climax.

I knew who this person was. I thought I knew why. Except I didn’t.

Fictional characters aren’t real. Except they are real in their stories and the minds of their authors. And this person I thought was the villain of sorts wasn’t that person at all.

Mistaken Promises, Hazel Whitmore #3 by Karen GoatKeeper completes writing book series about Hazel for now
Family secrets can have unintended consequences as Hazel finds out in this third book about Hazel Whitmore.

It took months for me to sort out everything. Then I did know who and why. Then “Mistaken Promises” could be and was written.

There are a few people who enjoy reading about Hazel. In some ways I miss her and would like to continue her story. There are lots of possibilities.

Writing book series takes a commitment I am not willing to make right now. I’ve gone on to other projects. So, for now, this series is a trilogy.

Hazel’s Cooking Challenges

“Mistaken Promises” is written. Now I’m finishing all the fact checking. Then there is Hazel’s cooking.

Broken Promises

Back in “Broken Promises” Hazel learned to cook. Then it was a way to cope with her grief and anger. She discovered she liked to cook.

Old Promises

In “Old Promises” Hazel chooses a 4-H Cooking Project. Her cooking becomes more adventurous. The recipe sections at the back of each book get bigger. This continues in this third book in the series.

I grew up in a time when fast food was getting going. People cooked at home. Cookbooks were kept on a kitchen shelf for easy access. My shelf has about twenty different cookbooks.

pepper for Hazel's cooking

Recipes usually call for green peppers. My problem is the bitterness of these. Instead I’ve discovered colored bell peppers with an array of flavors and no bitterness. This gold bell pepper has a mildly spicy taste.

Hazel’s recipes are based on recipes in my cookbooks. This is when Hazel’s cooking and my cooking clash.

My milk comes from the goat barn. some of my milk becomes cheese. My eggs come from the hen house. My tomato sauce with its garlic, onions and bell peppers comes from my garden.

milk for Hazel's cooking

Refer to milk and Americans think of cow’s milk. I raise Nubian dairy goats and have goat milk in my refrigerator. It is unpasteurized. Goat’s milk and cow’s milk cooks much the same. The real difference is between using raw milk and pasteurized milk. Raw milk must be scalded (heated to 150 degrees and cooled) for many recipes such as breads and custards. Otherwise the milk will sour during cooking and sour the food.

Hazel gets milk, eggs, cheese, tomato sauce and other vegetables from the market.

I use lots of whole wheat flour, carob, little sugar, little salt and no black pepper in my cooking. Hazel uses white flour, sugar, salt and pepper in her cooking.

tomatoes for Hazel's cooking

Comparing store and garden tomatoes leaves the store variety in the chicken yard. chickens have no taste buds. Garden tomatoes come in hundreds of varieties suited to a cook’s purposes. These are paste or plum tomatoes with thick flesh and small seed cavities inside for making sauces.

Some of Hazel’s cooking is entered in the county fair in “Mistaken Promises.” One recipe is for a frosted chocolate cake.

I am in trouble.

I do bake cake. I do have an excellent recipe for chocolate cake. Except I cut the sugar in half and substitute carob for chocolate. I haven’t frosted a cake or made frosting in a very long time.

Meat loaf, cornbread, beef stew, zucchini bread and crepes don’t concern me very much. I do variations on the recipes, true. But my variations don’t change the recipes enough to be

eggs for Hazel's cooking

Chickens are great homestead livestock. The brown one is a salmon Favorelle. The white one is a white rock. There are so many breeds and colors. Fresh eggs are different too. People think about having brown or white eggs. The shell color is not as important (unless you eat them) as what is inside. Fresh eggs from my chickens have rich orange yolks from all the greens the chickens eat. This makes them a disaster in white cake (the cake becomes yellow cake). The whites are thick. The size varies, not all extra large or jumbo or whatever. Two small eggs are roughly a jumbo egg.

worrisome.

That frosted chocolate cake scares me.

Hazel’s cooking is an important part of her books. It’s not part of the plot, but it is her way of coping with stress. It is part of what makes her Hazel.

And preparing the recipes as they appear in Hazel’s cooking section in the books is important.

Where are those chocolate cake and frosting recipes?

Writing Mistaken Promises

Mistaken Promises is the third book about Hazel Whitmore. It is a long overdue book.

The series began with a simple premise: city girl moves to the country. A favorite series for me is Anne of Green Gables. It too has such a basic theme.

Broken Promises was my first attempt at writing a novel. Like all new writers, I had such grand ideas and little knowledge of how to realize them.

The book draft was a disaster.

Broken Promises

A couple of years later I resurrected the novel. The basic idea was the same. The plot was totally different. This time the novel came together and became Broken Promises.

The book had a major flaw. Hazel didn’t leave the city until the last chapter. A second book was necessary to put the city girl in the country.

And Old Promises was written. Hazel lives in the country. At heart she is still a city girl.

Old Promises

Many people move to the country, but never really leave the city behind them. Some try, but are overdoing it. This burns them out quickly and they leave or go back to being city people living in the country.

Hazel doesn’t know yet. She misses many of the things from the city. She finds she values some things in the country.

The plot in Old Promises centered on a family feud rooted in the past. It erupts at the end in tragedy. This does not end the feud or solve the problems.

Mistaken Promises was born in that tragedy. The feud and the bullying Hazel thought were over, are back and far different from the previous semester at Hanging Rock School.

Hazel, still the city girl, finds being part of the country is interesting. She can have her cats, her chickens and get fresh vegetables to cook. None of these was possible in New York City.

Internet service is slow. Cell phone service skips her house. Possible friends live far away. Entertainment such as plays, theater, Central Park are dreams from her past now.

What will the future bring to this transplanted city girl? At thirteen, Hazel is still deciding on her future and trying to survive to live it.

Meet Hazel Whitmore in the first two books of the series: Broken Promises and Old Promises.