Apricots and Wolfsbane

Cover Reveal!

Here’s the full cover for Apricots and Wolfsbane! Thank you to Kate Cowan at Broken Arrow Designs for bringing part of my imagination to life.

Pre-order the Kindle version from Amazon (Paperback link coming soon)

Pre-order the paperback from FillesVertesPublishing

Apricots and Wolfsbane releases on Friday, October 13!

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. Believing confession erases the sin of murder, her morbid desires are in unity with faith, 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 with 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.

Praise for Apricots and Wolfsbane:

“Delicious. Apricots and Wolfsbane is a unique thriller packed with impressive research into historical poisons. Fast-paced, grim, and darkly funny, Pohlkamp’s prose are intoxicating.”

—Jessica Cale, author of Tyburn


“This is not my usual genre, however, I enjoyed the novel immensely. The story kept me on my toes with the action and the plot twists.”

—Lisa Orchard author of The Super Spies and The Starlight Chronicles.


“Although rich in period detail, K.M. Pohlkamp’s Apricots and Wolfsbane reads like a modern-day psychological thriller. Fans of the Dexter series will love Lavinia, an anti-hero the reader simultaneously gravitates toward and cringes away from. In some scenes, Lavinia is so sympathetic, my palms sweat with anticipation, hoping Lavinia could escape every predicament she found herself in. In other scenes, my stomach turned in revulsion at the lengths the poisoner went through while stalking and attempting to murder her prey. This is a perfect book club novel—with enough interest and intrigue to keep everyone turning the pages and enough depth for a lively discussion afterwards. I can’t wait for the sequel!”

—Megan Cassidy, author of Always JessieThe Misadventures of Marvin Miller, and Smothered

Pre-order the Kindle version from Amazon (Paperback link coming soon)

Pre-order the paperback from FillesVertesPublishing

Apricots and Wolfsbane releases on Friday, October 13!

Apricots and Wolfsbane

50 Days Until Publication!

It is strange and exhilarating to watch a tale crafted out of the depths of my imagination come to life in tangible form.

The past months have been a whirlwind of revisions and authoring promotional/guest blogs for this fall. Last week, I completed a final round of manuscript edits considering comments from the beta reviews completed by all the Filles Vertes interns. (Thank you all again!) I’m thrilled my book caused so much thought and conversation. I wanted to write a book that made the reader think and it seems I met my goal!

Pre-publication reviews from published authors are also coming in (you can read them here) and I love the first glimpses into the thoughts of readers. I sincerely appreciate the time of the authors who have helped with this effort, and thank you for the beautiful reviews!

I’ve had a blast working with Kate Cowan of Broken Arrow Designs to create the cover and helping Filles Vertes Publishing with details for the inside layout design. I can’t wait to share the final cover and expect we’ll be announcing a reveal date soon!

50 days – it’s getting real, folks! I’m publishing a book!

Writing Tip

The Math Hidden Within ISBN Numbers

isbnAn ISBN (or International Standard book Number) is a 13-digit number uniquely identifying books and “book-like” products. The number is used to differentiate one title, or edition of a title, from a specific publisher.  For example, an e-book and a paperback version of the same book would each have different ISBNs. Changing the cover of a book does not result in a new edition, since the text is the same.

Not all books have an ISBN number. If the book is printed privately and is not intended for bookstore or library distribution, then it does not need an ISBN number.

ISBN numbers were first derived in 1967 in the United Kingdom by David Whitaker, who based the system upon the 9-digit Standard Book Number (SBN) created in 1966. The 10-digit format was then developed the International Organization for Standardization  (ISO) and published in 1970. Ironically, the UK continued to use the 9-digit SBN code until 1974. Old SBNs were converted to ISBNs by adding a zero prefix. ISBNs remained 10-digits long until January 1, 2007, when ISBNs switched to a 13-digit format.

The number is divided into five parts of variable length, each separated by a hyphen:

  1. A Prefix (only applicable to 13-digit ISBNs). To date, only “978” or “979” have been used.
  2. Identifier for national or geographic location of the publisher
  3. The publisher identifier
  4. The title identifier which differentiates a particular title or edition
  5. A check digit which validates the ISBN.

For my fellow math geeks out there, the check digit for an ISBN-13 number is calculated via the following procedure:

  • Multiply each of the preceding 12-digits by a 1 or a 3 (alternating, starting with 1)
  • Sum all the products
  • Divide the result by 10 and calculate the remainder (mod 10)
  • Subtract the remainder from 10


For the ISBN-13 number for Apricots and Wolfsbane: 978-1-946802-02-6, the check digit (6), is calculated:


Fun fact: The check digit for ISBN-10 numbers is calculated differently.  The procedure can result in a “10” for a check digit. When this occurs, the last digit is replaced with a roman numeral X to maintain a 10-digit ISBN Number.

For more information visit:



What’s in a name? My title saga . . .

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a name makes a significance difference for a book.

A book’s title must be intriguing, grab a potential reader and stand out from the thousands of competitors. It must provide an essence of the genre and the pages contained within.

I swear, titling my novel was more difficult than writing it.  One person expressed to me that titling a book is as stressful as naming a child.  Frankly, we had an easier time naming our kids.

I fretted over the title before I queried publishers and eventually settled on Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane. I liked the poetic essence and juxtaposition between a common item (an apricot) and a more commonly known poison (wolfsbane). The two items are also significant to the plot.

However, a few weeks ago, my publisher (Filles Vertes Publishing) suggested I should shorten the title. I love my editors (Myra Fiacco and C.L. Rose) and respect their expertise. Working with professionals is certainly one huge advantage over self-publishing and I felt ignoring their advice would be foolish. I understand a shorter title can be more catchy and I do think they look better on a book spine.

Shorten the title. That can’t be so hard.

Except that I’m an engineer by trade . . .

In this light, their simple suggestion kicked off weeks of brainstorming, research and data collection. And since a perfect title cannot be computed or derived, it was a decision I struggled with.

Google research will suggest the perfect title is three words, one of which should be a verb. But a review of the best sellers’ list shows this is clearly not the case. Those titles do not fall into a nice formula.

In my search for a title, I brainstormed over 60 different options (I wish I was joking). So often I would stumble across a potential title only to discover another book already had it. I summarized my novel with as few words as possible to help provoke thought. I developed a list of nouns and verbs relevant to my manuscript and played with combining them in various ways. As a historical fiction, I became frustrated so many succulent words just didn’t exist in 1510 England . . . (If someone ever invents a time machine, please consider going back and introducing the words “intrigue” and “sadistic” to Tudor England.)

And as an engineer, I am a fan of the moto: In God we trust, all others bring data.

I conducted three polls on social media gathering 195 responses. I analyzed the audience of the polls, comparing them to my best guess of my potential readers. I conversed with respondents to understand why they liked a specific title over the other, and so often, their responses contradicted each other.

Thank you to all who provided their opinion over the last weeks. I am also grateful to my publisher who assisted as well by conducting market research and contributing to brainstorming efforts.

A title is subjective. As much as I wish, I know I cannot appease everyone. In the end, I wanted a title I would be happy with. A title my publisher believed would help sell my book.

And so, I am pleased to say we made a final decision today. The new title of my novel is Apricots and Wolfsbane. It will release October 13, 2017.

My husband says it’s “easily the best fruit and poison title he’s heard.” I’ll take that win 🙂