She felt like her little heart was beating out of her chest. Peeking through a crack in the door, 10-year-old Vanessa witnesses a horrific scene. Following the altercation, a neighbor finds their mother bleeding and unconscious. And her children are missing. What happened to Ella and her kids?
“Vex and Valor” (meaning tormented and fearless) is the saga of two families from completely different sides of the track, literally. Tim and Vee Crawford have a picture-perfect life. They are parents to four children and are lifelong residents of a reputable housing development in Brookton, PA. Georgia and Zeke Hayes struggle to make ends. They move with four of their seven children here from Tennessee, landing in a cul-de-sac for the railroad personnel searching for a better life. The families become introduced through the courtship that leads to marriage for their two youngest children – Ella Crawford and Ben Hayes.
Ella is fighting to survive in critical condition. Is Ben responsible for what happened to Ella? Many think so, while others think it was an accident. Searching for the truth, we watch the families become even more entangled and continue to seek for answers about Ella. The Crawford and Hayes children grow into adults, each with theories and more secrets. The saga starts to unravel mounting to its climax when the truth about Ella is finally revealed.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-98
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Three things inspired me to write this book. First was my deceased younger brother, Jeff Range. I've written short stories since I was in grade school. He was always the first to read them, give critique and suggestions. As we grew up together, he pushed me to keep writing. When we became adults, he was my inspiration to continue writing in any form I could. He told me it was my gift. After he died, I started this book. I was also inspired by two other writers that guided and coached me. My dear friend, Kurt Schindler, passed away in 2019. He wrote screenplays. He was a writer for the TV show "The Golden Girls" and he wrote plays for our local theater group that were original and creative. He passed me knowledge and encouragement. Finally, multiple sclerosis inspired me to write. Since my diagnosis in 2016 I've made writing my job. I worked 50 hours a week on my feet before the attack on my spine. My ability to walk is declining rapidly and I can no longer drive. So I write. I love it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
They come from the characters in my life. Georgia "Gigi" Hayes is mirrored after my paternal grandmother, and her husband, Ezekial Hayes is my grandpa. There's a character like me. My favorite character, the matriarch of the story, Vanessa Christina Crawford, is based on my mom. I could go on and on.
She had a hand over Jason’s mouth, and he covered his ears. Who was screaming? That wasn’t Mama. Sunlight began to come through the crack of the door in the coat closet. Vanessa listened.
“Get up, JJ. Be quiet. Shhh…someone’s out there.”
She waited several minutes and they both kept listening at the door. Was it a man’s voice? It sounded like Lance next door yelling for Tori. She didn’t hear anything now. “We should go out now. We should get ready to go to school.”
He looked startled with fear in his eyes. “Can we?”
Vanessa slowly pushed open the door but not all the way. Daylight came dashing in. Still quiet. She pushed through her fear.
“Stay here. I’ll go out first, to see if it’s safe, then come get you.”
She stepped out and closed the door about half-way. The kitchen was a mess. It looked much worse up-close than through the crack in the door. She needed to clean up before Jason saw this. She grabbed the broom and swept the glass in a pile. Good, she thought, not too much, only half of the Coke bottle broke off. She grabbed a towel off the sink and soaked up the Coke and wiped up a couple of puddles of blood and what looked like coffee on the table.
“Good. Not as much as I thought…of any of it,” she said out loud. That’s when the closet door opened, and JJ came out. She walked into the living room. The glass windows in the door were broken too.
“Nessie, what’s wrong? What happened? Where’s Mama? Where’s Daddy? Oh no, are those my jelly donuts? They are smashed on the wall! Nessie…see?” He walked over to the wall behind the kitchen table and put some jelly on his finger and licked it off. “Mmm, darnit.”
Here come the tears. Vanessa sat down and pulled five-year old Jason up on her lap cradling his head. She felt him shaking up against her. He was too young for all of this. The clock said 9:00. They were going to be late for school again. He stopped crying and looked up at her.
“Too many questions, JJ. Don’t you remember when we went in the closet?” She put him down deciding not to worry about wiping down the wall. JJ had seen his smashed grape jelly filled donuts and went back to using his finger to salvage their remains.
“Yeah…Daddy was late, and he was a skunk. Mama was really, really mad. I wasn’t though. He brought me these jelly donuts.”
“That’s right. Mama got mad. Daddy threw the donuts. Mama said we should go back to our room. Instead, we came to the closet, so I could hear. I wanted to make sure Mama calmed down, that she was OK. But their voices kept getting louder, then they got quiet again. You sat down and covered your ears. I heard Mama throw the Coke bottle. Or maybe Daddy did. There was a crash then and both the doors slammed. You know… it happens sometimes, JJ.”
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Debby Myers is a first-time writer who wrote her first story in 1st grade. Her teacher thought it was so creative, she submitted it to Children’s Digest where it was published the same year. It was way back then when she told her that she would write a novel one day. Now more than 50 years later, she’s excited to have published “Vex and Valor.”
Debby would like to thank her family. She is married to Alan, who she says is the greatest man she’s ever known. They are the parents of five and Nana and Papaw to five more. They live in Indiana in the small town of Peru, which is the “Circus Capital of the World,” home to both the Circus Hall of Fame and the Peru Amateur Circus, that Debby performed in for ten years starting when she was six. Debby began her career creating a day care center “Debby & Christy’s Day Stay” caring for 10-12 children. This allowed her to be with her children when they were young. She then worked as the “voice of the morning show” & news director for local radio station WARU, before going on to become a manager for Kroger. She sends thanks to heaven above to her brother, Jeff Range. He is the one constant in her journey to write a novel, telling her to use her gift. Finally, thanks to another special man in her life, Kurt Schindler, whose own writing and creating stories were an inspiration in her journey before he passed away.
Debby was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 2016. Her condition is stable, and she has written a number of short stories about her experiences living with this odd disease. She hopes she inspires others with the disease to use their time as she has.
The second book of the trilogy "Verdicts and Vows” will be out this summer.