Redemption is finally Available

cover art

I am pleased to announce that my debut novel is available for sale. Her is what others had to say–

“You can smell Indian war paint and feel the thunder under their horses’ feet. Texas life was hard back then, and it’s told well in this man’s story.” – Dusty Richards, Spur Award winning author

“Scott Amsbaugh is an engaging wordsmith, and Redemption will certainly connect with western readers. Carefully researched, his novel puts us in the heart of a typical 1860’s Texas family, torn by Comanche murders, kidnappings, and efforts to save the captives-or not.” – McKendree Long, author of Higher Ground and Spur finalist for Chouteau’s Crossing, featured in Rough Country

Redemption —  From earliest colonization to the closing of the frontier, redemption is the term settlers applied to the return of white captives abducted during the Indian wars.

The year is 1859. Matthew Kincaid’s parents are killed and his brother, Seth, and sister, Sarah, taken captive in an Indian raid on their Texas farm. Family friend, William Crow Killer, is himself a Comanche banished by the band responsible for the for the kidnapping. Matthew’s uncle, Jacob Mackenzie, is hell bent for revenge. This unlikely pair heads out on the trail of the killers.

Swept up in this brutal hunt, Matthew must decide what he seeks. Will he succumb to his fire for vengeance in the harsh Texas wilds, or find the strength of character to bring redemption to those he loves?

Redemption is available at Indiebound, Amazon , Barnes and Noble , and Books A Million.

I would love to hear what you think. Review it on Amazon, my Facebook page or on Good Reads. Or you can always leave a comment.

Meet me in St. Louie

I will be attending the Western Fictioneers Conference in St. Louis Friday, October 30 – Sunday, November 1st. If you are in the area, stop by and buy a book, sit in on a lecture or attend a panel discussion. The conference is offering a living social special.Western Fictioneers

I am thrilled to announce that my first book, Redemption, will be available to purchase at the conference. 

Wrongful Conviction

Wrongful ConvictionAs you may know, I am a founding member of SLuGs (Sarasota Literary Guild). So I am pleased to announce that SLuGs member, Janet Heijens, will have her début novel, “Wrongful Conviction – A Jean Jankowski Mystery” released September 5, 2015. It is being published by Five Star Mysteries, a division of Gale Publishing. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.

About the Author: Janet Heijens was born in Cocoa Beach, Florida on March 8, 1954. Her family later moved to the South Jersey shore where her first novel, Wrongful Conviction takes place. Though the story is set in the fictional town of Northwood, the author drew on her memory of her years spent in New Jersey, incorporating many of the places that will feel familiar to those who know the area well.
A founding member of the Sarasota Literary Guild, Janet is also a member of the Mystery Writer’s of America. She lives with her husband, Pieter in Sarasota, Florida.
About Wrongful Conviction: Leland Booker is serving a life sentence for killing his wife and daughters. All hope for justice is lost until Adam Bennett, a young law student takes on the case. Adam determines that his only chance for success rests on his ability to prove Leland was wrongfully convicted.
When Jean Jankowski, a friend of the family, hears that the case is reopened, the past rushes back. She tells Adam the story of events leading up to the murders and in the process raises unanswered questions as to what really happened all those years ago.
With a myriad of twists and turns, Wrongful Conviction explores the world of a justice system gone wrong. This legal thriller will keep the reader guessing until the last page is turned.
Reviews for Wrongful Conviction:  “A high school teacher’s world goes haywire when a law student probes a 30-year-old case. Heijens premiers a rare heroine who’s both gritty and reflective. Here’s hoping for a series.” – Kirkus Reviews
Wrongful Conviction: Published by Five Star Mysteries, a division of Gale Publishing
Release date September 5, 2015
Available in libraries across the US and in Canada
Find me on: Website –
FaceBook – Janet Heijens
Events: September 4, 2015 – Podcast Interview w/ Stephen Campbell on CrimeFiction.FM
November, 2015 – Gondolier Sun feature article by Kim Cool
Feb 25-28, 2016 – SleuthFest Writer’s Conference, Deerfield Beach, FL

A Very Rough Ride

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The air was thick, damp — the temperature sweltering on the 1st of July. The cavalrymen, forced to leave their mounts behind for lack of transport, suffered from exhaustion, struggled through SAW3 (2)thick chaparral working down the trails to the foot of the heights. The wilds of Arizona, the Dakotas and Montana might be hot, but this jungle climate was as steamy as an Indian sweat lodge. The loose, khaki field uniforms approved in May had failed to materialize and the men soaked through their heavy, blue flannel shirts and felt hats. The place was Cuba – the foot of the San Juan Heights; the year – 1898.

Carrying inferior, bolt action Krag rifles, the soldiers found themselves outgunned by the opposing Spanish soldatos armed with Mausers. Their enemy wore lightweight, cotton tunics and straw hats. US artillery proved inferior too when every black powder round, besides falling too short to be of affect, betrayed the gun positions with billowing smoke clouds. The Spanish replied with accurately placed rounds of smokeless ammunition. The Americans were overmatched and might have failed but for two things, Lieutenant John Henry Parker and the robust health and moral of the American soldier.

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Light Gatlin Gun

For years Parker had touted his vision of mobile machine gun assault to his superiors. No one much cared. But when he presented a detailed operation plan with requirements for draft animals, ammunition transport, gun carriages, and crew schedules, the Cuban invasion command relented. As the famed assault up San Juan Hill began it was “Gatlin Gun” Parker’s rapid fire weapons that led the way. In after action reports it was clear the vast majority of Spaniards had been cleared from the heights not by the Krag rifle, but by the devastating effectiveness of the machine gun, a lesson many armies would fail to learn until a generation later in the trenches of France.

But the Spanish suffered terribly before the deadly hail of bullets began. For years they’d fought in the malarial tropics and it showed in their health. The preceding three years saw over 50,000 soldatos die of illness. The US troops, new to the tropics, were yet to feel the jungle’s ill effects.

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Buffalo Soldiers

The American cavalrymen were vigorous and healthy. They charged the heights behind Parker’s destructive rain of automatic fire. Corporal Smith of I Troop and Sergeant George Berry were first to the top of the ridge. The latter bore two regimental standards to the crest with him. A man of great stature, Sergeant Barry rallied the assault force on his position by waving the flags while he endured a withering fire from Spanish riflemen. Troops from other regiments including Teddy Roosevelt’s famed Rough Riders swarmed the hill to join Barry, the Color Sergeant of the 10th US Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers.

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John Perhing

That’s right – the newspapers of the day didn’t report it, but the first men to the top of the San Juan Heights, the noncoms Smith and Berry, were Black men. Lt John Pershing of that regiment had, in a recent posting to West Point, been derided for his enthusiastic support of Black troops and saddled with the nickname “Nigger Jack“. Ironically the same writers who failed to credit the 10th Cavalry sanitized Pershing’s sobriquet when citing him in their Cuban reports. Pershing would retain this more polite and printable handle, “Black Jack” when he later commanded the American Expeditionary Force in the First World War. He would also remember the effectiveness of both Black troops and machine guns, making good use of both.

In a larger twist of irony, these men’s division commander Joe Wheeler, was a former General in the Confederate Army. It was believed he’d prevent southerners from attacking the blue clad troops transporting across Dixie in route to embarkation in Tampa – odd, since the unreconstructed rebel hated Yankees and distained Blacks. In fact when the first shots in Cuba erupted the aging general famously cried out, “Get those damned Yankees.”

After Cuba was secured the Americans, now too long in country, began to suffer under tropical maladies too. The commanding general called the entire lot an “Army of convalescents”. So in one final insult, the 9th US Infantry, Colored, was left to garrison the island as the army was withdrawn. It was assumed Black men were better at resisting jungle diseases. Of course they were not, and fully 10% succumbed to yellow fever.

And people claim we haven’t gotten any smarter in America over the past century.

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Who exactly is the Enemy?

Literary License

Roger has good insight on Literary License.


The interview with Roger Hooverman introduced the topic of literary license. Roger was kind enough to respond to a follow up question.

Do you have a difficult time staying true to the family stories? Aren’t you tempted to exercise your literary license to further develop the person or plot?


When you write historical fiction, as opposed to narrative history, you have to go beyond the known facts and create detailed scenes and dialog that probably did not happen in the real world. Keep in mind, the people in my stories are not real people: they are fictional characters. But I need to make them as much like the real people as I can. Otherwise it won’t seem realistic when they do what the real people did.

As a writer I learned early on that you can create characters and plan how a scene should go; but then when you…

View original post 600 more words

Roger Hooverman – Part 2

This is the second part to the interview with my friend and fellow SluGS member, Roger. Good information and interesting read.

Charlie, Mackenzie & Associates

roger2 This is the second part of Debbie’s interview with Florida writer, Roger Hooverman.

You have published on Amazon. How was that process? Would you recommend that avenue for emerging writers?

I chose to self-publish through Amazon because I didn’t think my books had the market potential to interest a commercial agent or publisher.  Many other authors aiming at a mass market do self-publish though, and are apparently quite successful.
    Amazon works in partnership with CreateSpace, which is the actual on-demand publishing company. The process was very easy.  It did not cost me anything at all – they will sell you professional help in editing, layout and cover design if you want it, but I decided I could do that myself.  They give very clear instructions in how to format the book, and their online interface is easy to use. I was able to proof the book online, and order…

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Interview with Roger Hooverman

Roger is a founding member of Slugs, the writers’ critique group that I belong to. Check out their site at

Charlie, Mackenzie & Associates

Debbie Amsbaugh from Charlie, Mackenzie & Associates had the opportunity to pose questions to Sarasota writer, Roger Hooverman. Roger has published a work of historical fiction based on his family history and has edited and published his mother’s oral history. In addition he has published several short stories on the web. He is a founding member of SLuGs, writers’ critique group in Venice, Florida.

Roger Hooverman Roger Hooverman

Have you always been a writer? If no, what prompted you to start writing?

  • Actually, I never tried writing seriously – that is, for publication – until I retired in 2006. I’ve always liked reading and writing – even as a child I wrote stories and poems, and I took creative writing classes in high school and college. But I chose college teaching as a career, and when it came time for a career change in midlife, I ended up as a computer programmer…

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Scotland, Pittsburg, the Cowboy and Ariosa

arbuckle 5A poor young immigrant from Scotland moves to Pittsburg. He founds a new company. Using an innovative manufacturing process, he corners the market on his product and becomes a wealthy robber baron. I know you are thinking it sounds like Andrew Carnage but it’s not. This blog is about the Old West.

arbuckle 12This Ariosa then – is it some rare breed of horse prized by cowhands of the old west, and what has that to do with our tycoon? Well, it’s not a horse, but no hand worth his salt in the Old West was ever caught riding the range without it.

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Dandy Civil War Brew

This is the story of coffee. It starts when Scotsman, John Arbuckle, opens a grocery distribution warehouse with his brother. It’s the boom time during the Civil War and coffee beans are sold to the Army green. Soldiers roast the beans in a frying pan and crush them with their rifle butts before boiling. One burnt bean will often spoil the brew. Good coffee is hard to come by unless you are in the city. This gives John an idea.

He patented a process in 1865 for air roasting coffee with a sugar and egg coating and invented a machine for rapidly packing the still warm beans in airtight one pound packages. As soldiers left the army and moved west, punching cows, fighting Indians and settling farm land, there was one luxury they could now afford; good consistent coffee. Previously a treat, coffee thus became a staple. Every chuck wagon west of the Mississippi was chock full of Arbuckle’s Ariosa.arbuckle 9

The Arbuckle brothers began refining the sugar for their glaze and eventually owned the largest shipping firm in the country, just for shipping beans from Brazil to the US. From this Brazilian connection the Ariosa moniker originated – A– (for Arbuckles) –rio– (as in shipped from Rio de Janeiro) and –sa ( for Santos, another Brazilian export town). Arbuckle’s Ariosa Coffee dominated so completely that for the latter half of the nineteenth century cowpokes simply called for a cup of Arbuckle’s when they needed a pick-me-up, not knowing there was any other brand.arbuckle 10

John brilliantly began printing coupons for everything a hand might need, from razors to wedding rings, on his bags of coffee. Owing to the Cowboys’ well known sweet tooth, the company included a peppermint stick in every bag of their Ariosa beans. In desert lands where lumber was scarce, wood repairs were often made from left over Arbuckle’s crates and merchants across the west built shelves from the plentiful boxes. Coffee became the preferred drink of the working man because of John Arbuckle and the Cowboy. Those of us who take a strong hot cup in the morning to get going, owe our thanks to them.

arbuckle 6With the popularity of Ariosa among the cowboy class so great, Arbuckle’s bought a vast ranch near Cheyenne, Wyoming. John spent much of his time there directly administering operations up to his death in 1912. With his passing, Folgers and Maxwell House eventually broke the Arbuckle trust.

But you can still buy Arbuckle’s Ariosa today. Ironically, it is now a prized premium coffee, very expensive and available in specialty markets and at resort destinations. It is roasted today in Tucson, Arizona and touted as The Coffee that Won the West. But it’s still packed in one pound packages and includes a peppermint stick inside.arbuckle 4

 For anyone who wants to try the Coffee That Won the West go to:


Mysterious Mr Woodson

Outlaw Frank JamesOn March 11, 1881, Alexander Smith, Army paymaster, swung into the saddle in Florence, Alabama bearing $5200 in government payroll. He trotted along the Muscle Shoals Canal tow path several miles from town. The canal was known across the country, a modern engineering marvel. But to the three desperados recently arrived from their home in Nashville, the canal meant an opportunity, greenbacks, government payroll no less, just what they preferred.

The band sprung on Smith before he could reach for his pistol, A-post5-14-10robbed him then released him along with about $30 of his own money and a gold watch. They told him they desired to take nothing but the government money. They gave him an overcoat to warm himself when they parted. Previously they had robbed banks in Kentucky at Russellville and Columbia in 1868 and 1872. They stole as much as $20,000 from a bank in Huntington, West Virginia in 1875 and held up a stagecoach near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky in 1880.

Soon one of the bandits was caught in Nashville, but the others got away cleanly, safe across the Mississippi. So why is the hold up in Alabama so significant and what has any of this to do with the Old West? The War Between the States, then sixteen years past, holds the answer. Let me explain.

A-post5-14-4About two years later, a wanted man calling himself BJ Woodson surrendered to the governor. His brother, murdered a few months earlier, was also wanted. To the governor’s way of thinking, a notorious outlaw like the brother was best done with no matter the political climate. His killers were quickly tried, convicted and then pardoned. This left little doubt that the same fate awaited “Woodson” if he did not take make a change, so he surrendered. A former gang member identified “Woodson” as one of Paymaster Smith’s assailants. He was extradited from his native state to Alabama where he stood trial for the first time in his life – for that holdup along the Muscle Shoals Canal. A-post5-14-7

But no one was surprised when the jury in the Southern state acquitted. In the years following the end of Civil War Reconstruction, the old Southern guard had sought to exert itself in Alabama and other Southern states. Juries mostly decided by what seemed politically correct rather than on the evidence. This case proved no different and our defendant, a Confederate veteran and Southern folk hero, went free.

A-post5-14-8But upon leaving the court room, this “Woodson” faced two more lawmen, each waiting to return him for trial to his own jurisdiction. Fortunately for him it was the marshal from Missouri who took custody. You see “Woodson” had carried out far more crime in his home state than those relative few robberies I noted east of the Mississippi. He was returned home to Missouri where, once again, sympathetic jurors acquitted him, first for murder and later for armed robbery. And the authorities from that other jurisdiction, the State of Minnesota, never were granted extradition. A-post5-14-11

It seems an agreement was reached between the Missouri governor and “Mr. Woodson”. The agreement would allow him to avoid the fate of his brother, Jesse. The mysterious Mr. Woodson was in fact Frank James. He agreed to surrender and even to stand trial in Alabama, but only if assured he would be spared extradition to Minnesota where the his gang’s Northfield raid left two citizens dead. Cole, Jim and Bob Younger, captured after that raid, had availed themselves of a quirk in the state’s law and legally slipped the hangman’s noose by confessing. Outrage led to a change in the law and confession was no longer permitted to save a convicted man in Minnesota. Those Minnesota Yankees, prone to despising former Rebels, would most assuredly convict and hang Frank James.

A-post5-14-5But Frank was never convicted of anything. He took jobs as a shoe salesman, telegraph operator and as the betting commissioner for a New Orleans horse track. In fact after Cole younger was paroled and left Minnesota in 1903, he and Frank started the James-Younger Wild West Show. Frank traveled as a lecturer and gave 50 cent tours of the home he and Jesse grew up in.

And there in 1915 he died in bed at the age of 72. It seems in those days it was better to be popular than law abiding. Come to think of it maybe not that much has changed since then.

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Autie the prankster


His Mother

Well, the A-Z challenge was quite an undertaking. Congratulations to everyone who made it all the way to Z and thanks to all who stopped by and left comments on my posts. I will have a shout out at the bottom to all of you. For those of you who liked the Old West posts with a secret to guess, there will be more of those coming, including one today. I’ll also have some contests upcoming in which you can guess who made the quoted remark, who created the artwork, who is in the photo, etc. all, naturally, with an Old West theme. So on to today’s post


United States Military Academy

Autie was born in New Rumley, Ohio at the beginning of December 1839. His mother Marie’s marriage to his father, Emanuel, a blacksmith was not her first. Four more children followed. With too many mouths to feed, they packed Autie off to Michigan at age 10 to live with his half-sister in Monroe. After finishing primary school he returned to Ohio where he hauled and sold coal to earn room and board while attending college. He then spent two years teaching as he tried to enter law school. A man with great ambition but without funds, Autie gave up his dreams of the law and tried for appointment to West Point. His father, a staunch Democrat had little pull with their Republican Congressman, John Bingham, and Autie’s application went no place.


Autie the Cadet

But luck intervened. Autie began to keep company with Mollie Holland. He wrote a note suggesting she should engage in some earthly passions with him which was intercepted by the girl’s father. Being a close confidant of the Congressman, the elder Holland requested Congressman Bingham reconsider the young man’s application, and Autie was off to the Academy. He engaged more in pranks than in studies and would eventually graduate with 726 demerits, the very last in his class. By graduation the Civil War had erupted, but Autie’s departure for the field was delayed by a court-martial on yet another matter of conduct.



Fortunately for the young officer his audacity as a prankster translated into daring on the battlefield. The casualty rates within his units were nearly as high as the praises he received from commanders regarding his exploits. While serving with the Union Army he rose steadily through the ranks. During leave, he met and married Elizabeth Bacon. They moved to Washington where his wife lobbied the political class on behalf of her husband. By the war’s end he’d gained wide notoriety becoming something of a celebrity. But the peacetime Army had less interest in daring and more in discipline. Autie was demoted to captain and thought seriously about leaving the service. He was offered the post of adjutant general in the Mexican Army, but was forced to turn down President Juarez by the US State Department.

custer5Autie went west. He turned down a post and higher rank leading “colored troops” in the 10th for a lower rank and a billet with white troops. Stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, he became executive officer of a regiment under first, Colonel Andrew Smith and afterward, under Colonel Sam Sturgis. He participated in the 1867 Cheyenne Campaign. But he also went AWOL and abandoned his post to visit his wife. He underwent court –martial again for that, for refusing medical assistance to injured soldiers and, ironically, for executing deserters without trial. He was found guilty and forced to leave the service.

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Autie the Officer

But this was not the end for Armstrong, the name he mispronounced “Autie” as a toddler and which forever earned him that nickname. He was recalled and fought against Black Kettle at the Washita. He fought the Cheyenne, the Kiowa and later the Blackfeet and the Crow. In 1874 he wrote an autobiography. But he would ultimately bear one final disgrace which his wife Elizabeth, better known as Libbie, would work tirelessly to erase. His dishonor would come while facing the Lakota, or as known to their enemies, the Sioux. You see Colonel Sam Sturgis was away from his command in the nation’s centennial year, 1876. And this left Armstrong – George Armstrong that is – to lead the Seventh Cavalry to destruction in what has ever since been known as Custer’s last stand.


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