Happiness Key: Wanda’s Story, Part One

Welcome to the on-going peek at the characters in my new novel Happiness Key.  If this is your first visit?  Before I began work on the book, I did a first person character study for each of my four main characters.  I’m sharing excerpts from those here, to help you become better acquainted with Tracy, Janya, Wanda and Alice.  This is Wanda’s week.  Remember, these excerpts won’t appear in the novel, but some of the background will.  Not only does this give you, the reader, a chance to know the characters better, but it gives you a little insight into the way the writing process works for me.  And isn’t that scary? 

Thumbnail image for Wanda outdoor cafe.jpgWhen I look in the mirror these days, I don’t recognize myself. That happened when I got to be a teenager, too. It seemed like overnight I went from being a tow-headed, plump cheeked tomboy who was a pal to every boy she ever met, to a mousy-haired, big-breasted, wide-hipped teenager with teeth too big for the lips God gave me. Growing into a young woman was a lot easier after that. The face slimmed down, found the lines it wanted to inhabit. I learned how to dress the body, and those big protruding teeth became as much an asset as the breasts. Both welcoming to men, one for smiling, one for thrusting in their general direction.

Now, at 56, the teeth aren’t as straight as they were, and the breasts, no matter how good my bras, are determined to sag. It’s age, pure and simple, and no mistaking it. There’s my skin, dried out and wrinkled from this Florida sun, and sprouting patches of this and that, although so far, nothing that’s going to kill me right off the bat. Then hair that’s turning gray faster than I can get a new box of copper shimmer to cover my roots. And finally, eyes that just don’t see the way they once did and them being so dry I can’t wear contacts the way I expected to whenever it came to this. The black-rimmed glasses I had to buy make me look like something from a rock concert for the Geritol set.

Not that anybody’s looking that hard anymore, so what’s it matter anyhow? There was a time when my husband Kenny was interested in every little thing about my body. Sex drew us together and sex kept us there. Don’t ever let anybody tell you it’s second to anything in a marriage. You got sex, you can work out the rest of the stuff in bed. You just think about it. A man wants a woman bad, than he’s gonna do what he can to make her want him. Once he gets it through his head what that means, he’ll make a stab at it, unless he’s some kind of nut case wants to feel bad all the time. Little by little, the stuff smoothes out because the fun just goes on. And people need fun.

Kenny and I had fun. He’s never been much of a talker, though. We met at a bar where I was serving drinks in a short red mini-skirt with a low cut blouse and black boots nearly to my knees. I left home at eighteen, pretty much clutching my high school diploma in my hand, fresh off the presses. My parents didn’t tell me to go, but I was ready. Mama had three more kids and she needed the room. Mama and Daddy were Crackers through and through, good people who took care of their own the best they knew how, and not a bit embarrassed by it.

Next: Wanda’s Story, Part Two 


  1. Ingrid King on July 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    These are so fun! I’m halfway through “Happiness Key” (thank goodness I have quite a bit of time for reading right now, it is HARD to put down!), and these character studies make reading the book even more fun. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  2. Emilie Richards on July 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks, Ingrid. I’m enjoying sharing them.

  3. RobynL on July 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I took the quiz and am waiting to see what Alice is like; she is who I got upon taking the quiz. Thanks for doing this and giving more insight into the book. I love the prizes up for grabs and can taste the Key Lime pie as I type.

  4. Sunnymay on July 7, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    The way you plot out each character is almost conversational. I like knowing bits and pieces that they are concerned with and probabilities for continuing along a certain path given the details you flesh out.

  5. Laney4 on July 8, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Hi again! Didn’t realize that these weren’t included in the novel. Should have read original blogs first. Oops! Many thanks for sharing them with us!

  6. Maureen on July 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Wanda sounds like quite a character. What makes me happy is my family and I do enjoy it when we are all home and able to eat a meal together.

  7. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    It is nice to see the backstory for characters. I’ve know that many authors do this, but rarely are we given a glimpse of them. It has been interesting and enjoyable. Thanks.

  8. Patricia Barraclough on September 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Like Wanda, I am starting to not recognize the me in the mirror. Age is starting to take it’s toll and it shows in the face. I’m happy with who I am, but not how I look. The sags, the extra pounds, afraid they are here to stay.

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