Apricots and Wolfsbane, Shadows of Hemlock

Cover Reveal: Shadows of Hemlock

Grab your mortar and pestle and cover your mead before following this poison assassin back to Tudor England. The sequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane, Shadows of Hemlock, is now available for pre-order and will be released Nov 19. Stay tuned for more info and an soon-to-be-released FREE prequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane.

Synopsis:

Regret is a bitter poison.

In a desperate grasp for prestige, Aselin Gavrell betrayed her master to the execution block for the advantage of the onyx pendant now around her neck. Shelter from her master’s crimes comes with an unwanted allegiance and a list of innocents to murder. But the Guild of poison assassins will not be so easily pacified and charge Aselin to develop an antidote as retribution for her betrayal.

Unprepared for the independence she craved, Aselin is forced to seek aid from a fickle contact who wants only one means of payment: a ruby ring with a mare’s head. To save herself from her master’s fate, Aselin must navigate a growing list of debtors eager to toss her aside and confront her guilt in this fast-paced tale of growth and redemption in Tudor England.

Pre-order now and/or add Shadows of Hemlock to your GoodRead’s shelf: http://bit.ly/SOHemlock


Haven’t Read Apricots and Wolfsbane yet?

No worries! Catch up at the links below. This book has a book club discussion guide in the back so grab a friend too!


Shadows of Hemlock Pre-Release Reviews

“K.M. Pohlkamp follows Apricots and Wolfsbane with another entertaining story of a female assassin that we can’t help but root for. Living by her own peculiar code of conduct, Aselin strives for independence, recognition and respect in a world that grants them to few women. With uncanny parallels to our times, it leaves us wondering how much has – and hasn’t – changed, no matter our profession.” — P.K. Adams, author of Silent Water, a Jagiellon Mystery


“This is the sequel to the superb ‘Apricots and Wolfsbane’ and Ms. Pohlkamp has lost none of her ability to produce magical prose.” — Richard Tearle, Discovering Diamond Historical Fiction Reviews


“More toxic than ever before. K.M. Pohlkamp returns with the sequel to her award-winning story Apricots and Wolfsbane. Be ready to be transported to time where all work and suffer for the rich and the law protects those who control the purse strings. The historical detail dumps you into the dungeons and lifts you to the splendor of the 16th century nobility. Just don’t drink the wine!”– Dave Wickenden, Author of Author of In Defense of Innocence – A Laura Amour Thriller


“It was hard to put this book down.” — Melissa MacDonald, founder of A Tudor Writing Circle


“Picking up right where Apricots and Wolfsbane left off, Shadows of Hemlock transports readers back to a time when life was cheap and independence was dangerous. Aselin Gavrell understands these simple truths better than most but even she is not prepared for the dangers that come with charting her own path as an assassin. Hounded by powerful lords and agents of the law, Aselin must draw upon all her smarts to triumph over her foes. Where the book really shines, however, is Pohlkamp’s depiction of Aselin’s mental state. Rather than becoming more ruthless or more deranged as she advances in her career, Aselin’s character becomes more introspective and her character arc benefits from it greatly. Long after readers finish this book, they will be pondering heady questions related to ambition and sacrifice that will surely inspire heated discussion amongst fans. Anyone looking for an adventure novel filled with exciting twists and turns and engaging characters should look no further: Shadows of Hemlock is the book for you.”  — Edward Rickford, Author of The Serpent and the Eagle


“These two books are a pleasure to read. It’s an interesting trip into a secret life in Tudor England, a trip well worth taking.” — Phyllis H. Moore, author of Opal’s Story


About the Author

K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife to the love of her life, proud mother of two young children, and a Mission Control flight controller. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas for her day job and writes to maintain her sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. K.M. has come a long way from the wallpaper and cardboard books she created as a child. Her debut novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, was published October 2017 and was designated an Editors’ Choice Selection by the Historical Novel Society, among other accolades. She can be found at www.kmpohlkamp.com or @KMPohlkamp


Apricots and Wolfsbane, Writing Tip

Bringing the Past To Life – OSW CyCon 2019 Historical Fiction Blog Hop

An enticing plot, memorable characters with relatable flaws, and fast-paced tension will draw a reader into any story, but for historical fiction, the goal is also to transport them to the past. Here are my tips for bringing the past to life:

  1. Details paint a scene in a reader’s mind but they should not be blatant. Simply mentioning “she rested a hand on her bodice” instead of “hip” begins to place a scene in the past. The historic period should be another aspect of the scenery and plot, but not the dominating characteristic – meaning avoid paragraphs of detail dumps. Instead, integrate historical context into subtle actions, the way characters converse, and in word choices through entomology research.

  2. Use all the senses; do not just describes objects that are seen. How did clothing of the period feel against skin? How comfortable was the furniture? The way food is prepared affects the flavor and smell. What ambient sounds are in the scene?

  3. Research. For as much as details pull the reader in, wrong information can also throw them right out. A single anachronism can destroy the entire moment the author has meticulously crafted. It sucks, but that’s the truth. This condemns the historical fiction author to countless hours of research for the tiniest details we take for granted with modern time periods. To help with the never-ending task, here is a list of my favorite historical fiction research resources.

  4. Make sure the problem – and solution – are historically accurate. History can bite the author in so many ways. For my novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, I spent several days researching if it were possible for my Tudor assassin to have a greenhouse to overcome her ingredient shortage. (You can read about that research saga here.) Your character may not have had access to loans, education, or even a trustworthy food supply based upon their gender, race, and historical period. But at the same time, these historical hardships can help shape your character, provide opportunities for growth, and force the author to take less-predictable plot choices.

For another perspective on bringing history to life continue the OWS CyCon blog hop with: Robinette Waterson, who writes about the Victorian era.


Wait…What is OWS CyCon?

Our Write Side Cyber Convention is a virtual book fair May 17-19, 2019! Check out the site for book giveaways, live panel discussion, virtual fair booths, cover wars, and more!


While you’re there, please vote for Apricots and Wolfsbane in the HistFict Cover War!


K.M. Pohlkamp is the author if Apricots and Wolfsbane, an award-winning novel following the career of a female poison assassin in Tudor England. She is a blessed wife to the love of her life, proud mother of two young children, and a Mission Control flight controller. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas for her day job and writes to maintain sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. She can be found at http://www.kmpohlkamp.com, Twitter, or Facebook.


Apricots and Wolfsbane
Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies, to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Her morbid desires are balanced with faith since she believes confession erases the sin of murder, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge against her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder, but the betrayals are just beginning.

Apricots and Wolfsbane

It’s My Book Birthday!

Book BirthdayHappy Book Birthday to Apricots and Wolfsbane! One year ago today (Friday, October 13, 2017), I became a published author and what a year it has been.

Do any other authors check their Author Central sales daily?

How about GoodReads stats or for new reader reviews?

The best part of having my book out in the world has been hearing the reaction, both the good at the bad.

Thank you to the reader who wrote telling me I’m your new favorite author! (Here’s a video that summarizes why that is so cool: Surprise YouTube Video)

Thank you to the military wife who wrote saying my novel provided the escape she needed during her husband’s deployment. I am so touched to be able to give you something in return – a very minor, minuscule something compared to the sacrifice of your family.

But thank you also for  all the comments from readers wanting to throw their kindles at the wall when they reach the last page. I’m proud to have evoked such an emotional reaction. I knew the ending would be polarizing and therefore also appreciate the majority of comments saying they loved it and it is “the most dramatic ending” they have ever read.

I have enjoyed all book club chats, meeting readers at book fairs, and seeing my book at the Texas Renaissance Festival. I’m looking forward to my first international book club next month!

Thank you to all you amazing book bloggers who dedicate their time to promoting authors like me.

I am still in shock over the Historical Novel Society selecting Apricots and Wolfsbane as an Editors’ Choice Novel, and to be Discovering Diamonds book of the month. To have such reception from trusted historical fiction review sites is validation beyond what I imagined.

Thank you to every author who has swapped cross-promotion or provided advice. With the number of readers dwindling and book sales being incredibly competitive, it is amazing to see how warm and welcoming the author community is. You are all incredible. You are also the only ones who understand what a crazy, wild, insane, exhausting, emotional journey this has been.

Thank you to Filles Vertes Publishing for giving wings to my wild dream.

Most important, thank you to my family who provide such encouragement.

 

What do you think Lavinia would want for her birthday present?

Discuss your thoughts at the Apricots and Wolfsbane Book Chat Group on GoodReads or post in the comments.

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Apricots and Wolfsbane

Contract Signing Day!

Today I signed the publishing contract for the sequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane!

(And it was every bit as thrilling as the first time.)

Having tasted publishing once, I wanted it again, which made the stakes feel even higher this time around. I’m comforted by the stories from other authors who have shared similar feelings, to wonder if you can really write a book again. I’m told it never goes away, regardless of how many books are released.

I am so proud of how the sequel turned out and I know the developmental rounds with my editors will only make it better. I am grateful to Filles Vertes Publishing for their continued support and can’t wait to share the next chapters of this story with so many of you who are eagerly waiting. Thank you for all of the notes, tweets, DMs, e-mails, and reviews that call out anticipation for the sequel. They truly motivate my fingers at the keyboard.

So when will you get your hands on the sequel? Publication will be fall of 2019, but stay tuned over the next few months for sneak peeks of the plot synopsis, a title announcement, and the cover reveal. If you follow me on Twitter you’ve already seen some preview lines as well!

Free BookLooking forward to next fall, I’m working to put Apricots and Wolfsbane in as many hands as possible, but I cannot do it alone. The novel is currently free to download from BookFunnel throughout the month of September. Do you have a friend who might like a darker fall read? Please consider suggesting the novel or passing the link to them.

I’m also thrilled to announce Green Man Games and Books will be selling Apricots and Wolfsbane at the Texas Renaissance Festival this season! Please stop by booth 504 (across from the Royal Mint) to support a local author and a local bookstore. You can also challenge a fellow Rennie at one of their wooden games set out in front of the shop.

GreenMan

Lastly, I have created a GoodReads group for those interesting in discussing Apricots and Wolfsbane. While writing the book I aimed to create polarizing plot and character layers to challenge the reader and foster discussion, but I’m finding many of my readers are secluded without a network to have those discussions. Did the book leave you thinking? Do you think Lavinia would have killed again? Come share your opinion and join the discussion: Apricots and Wolfsbane Book Chat

Book Chat

Thank you to everyone for your continued support and stay tuned for more news to come!

Apricots and Wolfsbane

2018 B2BCYCON!

Welcome to my 2018 Brains To Books Convention Post! I am exciting to be highlighting my historical thriller, Apricots and Wolfsbane, which follows the career of a female poison assassin in Tudor England.

B2BCyCon runs April 6-8. Readers can participate in the convention by: 

And thank you to all who voted in the cover wars! Apricots and Wolfsbane won both the historical fiction and thriller cover wars!

B2BCyCon Explaination

Synopsis of Apricots and Wolfsbane

front cover

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies, to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Her morbid desires are balanced with faith since she believes confession erases the sin of murder, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge against her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder, but the betrayals are just beginning.

Watch the Book Trailer

Read reviews from other readers and on Goodreads or read an excerpt below.


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My B2BCyCon Virtual Interview

1. Describe your main character in one or two sentences.

Facing with the choice between the convent or marriage, Lavinia Maud claims independence in Tudor England by employing poisons as an assassin. She balances her morbid career with faith believing confession erases her sin.

2. Which one word would you use to describe your antagonist? Now which word would your antagonist use to describe themselves?

My protagonist is an anti-hero which makes this question interesting.

Antagonist #1 is the magistrate she loves but who could never understand Lavinia’s murderous desires. He is honorable and would describe himself thusly.

Antagonist #2 is the Priest who refuses to hear her further confessions. He is conflicted but believes himself to be righteous.

Lavinia’s patrons serve as several more antagonists. They are vindictive but believe their actions are self-justified.

And then there are the antagonists that no one suspects.

 

3. What’s the worst thing your main character has done?

The reader would say murder but Lavinia begs to differ.

4. What is the one part of your book that you, as the author, like best?

I love how my book ends and no on e has yet told me they saw the ending coming. I love every time someone tells me it is original. The ending actually inspired the rest of the book. In order to not give spoilers, feel free to DM me on Twitter or contact me through my website and I’ll tell you more after you’ve read it 🙂


Excerpt from Apricots and Wolfsbane

The violent display of convulsions lasted longer than I anticipated.

With my boots propped on the table, I remember watching beads of wax roll down the candle, marking time between my victim’s spasms. The brothel room was sparse, and the bed in the corner remained undisturbed. I had assumed the role of temptress that evening, but delivered a different climax.

I savored the fear on my victim’s face as much as my own unlaced mead. The sweetness of both danced on my palate. His repulsive gagging, however, I endured with patience.

My target focused upon me. His hand shook, reaching out in a misplaced plea for aid. Instead, I raised my goblet in a final toast while he turned purple. He glanced towards his spilled glass, and then studied my face with new understanding. With his last remnants of life, he pieced together what I had done. Those little moments made the act so delicious. And as his body collapsed upon the floor, I added one more success to my mental tally.

Murder just never got old.

The scratching of my chair sliding across the uneven floor broke the sudden, serene silence of the room. Driven by curiosity, my boots echoed with each step towards my victim.

The man’s eyes contained a lingering remnant of vibrancy despite the departure of the soul they once served. White froth percolated from his open mouth, overflowing the orifice to trail down his neck. It was not an honorable death, but my client had paid for certainty, not dignity.

Curious, I examined the large ruby on the victim’s pointer finger which matched the client’s description — an ornate setting with a coat of arms on one side of the gem and a mare’s head on the opposite. The worked piece of silver did not seem important enough to procure my service, but as a professional, I had not asked for justification, only payment. Material significance so often motivated patrons to fill my coffers. I recognized the inherent sin, but I never judged a client’s reason. I was not qualified to cast the first stone.

I did admire my victim. After all, he was a fellow criminal. I believed his talents as a thief must have been remarkable to pilfer the ring unnoticed from the finger of its owner. I often boasted of my own sleight of hand, but admittedly, I could not accomplish such a feat. Though in my defense, assassin clearly trumped thief.

After donning the black leather gloves concealed within the lacings of my bodice, I returned to business. I pushed the tipped chair out of the way and pulled on the ring, but my motion abruptly halted.

Caught at the knuckle, the gem did not budge.

I stared at his limp hand, dumbfounded, before a flame of focus burst through my body. How I craved and savored that rush. That high, and the feeling of power, motivated my ghastly craft all those years. Despite the stress, I never lost control of my emotions on the job. No matter the circumstance, I learned to remain calm and reason through any dilemma. That night was no different.

Grabbing the corpse’s wrist in one hand, I pulled on the metal band with all my strength. Still, the damn ring did not move, even with my heel braced against his chest. But through the sound of my grunting, the unexpected scratching of a nearby rat interrupted my efforts.

The rodent stood tall on his hind legs, observing the entertainment outside his hole in the floorboard. What else could I do except laugh in amusement? There was something poetic about the meager creature being the singular witness to the growing farce, while beyond the chamber door, an entire brothel remained unaware.

But their ignorance would not last for long.

By God’s nails, I was not going to degrade myself to play tug of war with a corpse, nor disgrace my spit to serve as lubrication. I retrieved the dagger from my boot and sawed through the bone of the blasted digit. In contrast, his purse strings cut with ease and the contained sum gave me confidence the proprietor would retain his promised discretion. Eager to depart, I cleansed the ring with the pure decanter of mead and left the contaminated gloves on the table.

I threw the finger to the rat.


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Thank you to my genre leads, A.F. Stewart and Richard White for all of their support and time with B2BCyCon.