Happy Wonkoversary To Us!

And the winner is . . . Sarah Wynde! Thanks to everyone who commented, and to all of you who read, whether erratically or faithfully. We’re so grateful for your visits.


One year ago today, Wonkomance launched with an introductory post in which we revealed our manifesto to the world. Or, at least, the part of the world that was paying attention. Somehow, three hundred sixty-five days have passed, and we’ve published eighty-three posts on everything from whether it’s okay to use the word “labia” in romance (yes) to thinky meta- posts comparing genre fiction to blues music — and rather a lot of in-between. We have a community of truly awesome regular readers and commenters, and we’re still amusing the heck out of ourselves. Which is the main thing, really.

In the interest of enriching our ability to wave the banner of wonk for another year and beyond, we’re adding a new contributor! Mary Ann Vadnais will be joining our stable of wonksters. She’s left so many scary-awesome comments, we really had no choice. If you don’t know Mary Ann, feel free to mosey over to her bio to get to know her better — or visit the comment section on recent posts to get a feel for her twisty-turny brain!

And now for a roundup of favorite Wonkomance moments in the first year, kicked off by Mary Ann. Every Wonkomance contributor will be throwing in a prize for one lucky commenter — more details at the end of the post.

Mary Ann Vadnais

My favorite wonkomance moment is Ruthie’s post, “Realism, Romance, and Wonkomance,” which I’ve had bookmarked on my laptop since last January. It’s interesting, because I didn’t put together, until recently, that Ruthie wrote it. I had not read Ride with Me, and I found wonkomance after googling something like “realism in romance” because I was pretty sure what I was writing, and the manuscript I had just finished, wasn’t at all marketable, and sometimes when I’m musing about why I’ve spent my writing life writing things no one reads I attempt to use the internet like an oracle. That time, an answer actually bounced up from the murky depths.

I had read many of the books Ruthie cited in the post, and her citation of them with her reasoned argument about what wonkomance actually was, contextualized by the genre, was terribly encouraging. Terrible, because I kept writing, and everyone knows how miserable writing is.  The idea that I’ve been given the opportunity to join this conversation, a year after I found that piece and tucked it away to think about now and again, is a dear thing. A wonky thing, if you will.

11431943I am so happy to contribute to the prize pool as a thank-you-for-including-me-and-possibly-making-it-all-the-way-through-future-wordy-posts-of-mine. I’m tossing in something that would require the real mail: a paperback of the winner’s choice of any of the books cited in Ruthie’s post (choose from Meg Maguire’s Headstrong; Theresa Weir’s Amazon Lily, Long Night Moon, or Cool Shade; Isabel Sharpe’s Turn Up the Heat, Long, Slow Burn, or Hot To the Touch), which I would send in a book tote, handmade by moi, in a fabric silkscreened with bikes. Because bikes are awesome. If the winner would prefer digital booty, choose any two ebooks cited in Ruthie’s 1/2012 post.


Serena Bell

TicketHome200x300Probably my two favorite personal moments were interviewing Theresa Weir and having Vicki Lewis Thompson chime in on my post on Nerd in Shining Armor. Favorite posts, though? Soooo many … two that jump out: Jondalar: The Father of All Alphaholes (Ruthie), because I’ve always felt that it was unjust that Ayla got credit for inventing everything, and Jondalar deserves credit for inventing the orgasm, and Romance Noveltron 5000 (Meg/Cara), because the creations it churns out are so convincingly like actual romance premises that I briefly considered turning that portion of my job over to it.

I’m happy to offer an ARC of my debut novella, Ticket Home (ebook, any format), for the giveaway, as well as a $10 gift certificate to B&N or Amazon, winner’s choice.


Ruthie Knox

11938752So many awesome moments in the past year, how am I to choose one? I’m very fond of Meg’s Mother’s Day post apologizing to all the fictional mothers she’s offed in her writing, as well as the interviews with Theresa Weir, Bonnie Dee, and Carolyn Crane — all of which I found illuminating and inspirational. But many of my favorite Wonkomance posts have been Serena’s, because she’s the one who seems to keep taking our wonktacular thoughts and summarizing them in pithy little statements about what wonkomance is and how it relates to our selves as writers and readers. Her review of Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened, titled “The Best Bad Sex Ever,” beautifully captures many of my own vague, wordless thoughts about the book. But I think my very favorite is her discussion of Swamplandia, and particularly the ending paragraphs about why one writes Wonkomance — or, rather, why one can’t stop.

I’m going to fling a copy of Ride with Me into the prize pool, even though it’s only moderately wonky, and I’ll supplement it with a copy of either Grant’s Lady Awakened or Swamplandia — reader’s choice.


Amber Lin

10300050My favorite Wonkomance moment was the cannibal post. Really, what other romance-centric site but us would wax poetic about a hero who ate people? As Ruthie said in the post, “when it comes to the Damaged Hero, go big or go home, right?” And lo, Carla Kelly sets the bar for us all. Here is the passage Ruthie highlighted in her post:

He looked around to see the innkeeper bringing out a roast of beef, all steaming and cunningly sliced so the tender, moist pink interior winked at him like… Oh, God, and now he was thinking of Artemesia, Lady Audley, with her legs spread wide, eager to seduce him after they left the miserable fever harbor of Batavia, prepared to cross the Indian Ocean.

I’m contributing an ebook copy of my debut novel, Giving It Up, as well as an ebook copy of Carla Kelly’s Beau Crusoe to the prize kitty.


Cara McKenna

Favorite Wonkomance moment’s got to be the entire comments thread that accompanied my post A Dewy Pink Rose by Any Other Name, regarding what’s acceptable and what’s just gross when it comes to euphemisms and junk-slang in romance. Exhibit A:

Anything that compares an asshole to a flower gets my attention in a bad way. “Rosy bud” and whatnot—it’s a BUTTHOLE, people. —Ruthie Knox, 2012

50833I’ll toss the two most formative novels I’ve read (and read and read and read) as an adult into the prize mix—The Long Walk by Stephen King, and Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. In paperback, because the e-version of Valley is RIDDLED with scanning errors. Unacceptable! Plus they’re both so crack-like, you’ll want paper copies to absorb the wine and coffee spills as you read in a lascivious frenzy! They’re both wonky in their own ways, though neither’s a romance (well, Valley‘s chock full of romances, but they’re all so…Valley.) I’ve read these books so many times, they can’t not have informed my own writing in subconscious ways. Oh, and I’ll throw in the paperback antho with Willing Victim and Curio in it, and a copy of Meg’s latest Harlequin Blaze.

Charlotte Stein

I hope I’m doing this right. I have to add my bit into this bit and I’m notorious for not knowing where my bits should go. So if I’ve done it wrong, ladies, I’m sorry! I am rubbish. So I guess one of my favourite Wonkomance moments for me was that I actually got to be a part of this blog at all, with such amazing people. Oh, and Cara’s post about moomins and winkies and the strange things they get called in the name of romance writing.

As for what I shall put into the pot…how about an ebook copy of Control, since it is without doubt my wonkiest book, and a $10 gift card for Amazon that I hope I can figure out how to buy and send. But don’t worry. If I fail, the ladies will sort me. Cos they are amazeballs!

The booty

Will you join us in celebrating this year of wonkiness? Tell us some of your memorable moments in the comments to be entered for the prize kitty, all of which will go to one very lucky, lovely commenter. Contest runs through Sunday, January 6, with winner to be announced on Monday. Leave your e-mail address in the appropriate line on the form to be contacted if you win; it won’t show up on the website.

Here is a recap of the prizes! In the cases with options, only one is shown.
11431943 10769785 TicketHome200x300 12991105 11938752 AmberLin-GivingItUp_200x300 10300050 Valley of the Dolls The Long Walk by Stephen King Lessons in Letting Go by Cara McKenna The Wedding Fling by Meg Maguire giftcard

About Ruthie Knox

Ruthie Knox writes witty, sexy romance novels for grownups. Read more >
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31 Responses to Happy Wonkoversary To Us!

  1. Shelley Hughes-Mills says:

    The post that most inspired me this year was Serena Bell’s essay about Romance, Mystery, and the Blues–and Mary Ann Vadnais’s followup comment. So glad she’s here as a contributor now!

    But I have to say, the reviews here have steered me toward the new and the interesting, and the community of writers and readers who post and comment here has both made me think about the shape of the genre we all love and given me a real sense of intellectual community. Happy anniversary, indeed!

    • Serena Bell says:

      Thanks so much, Shelley! That was a fun one to write. It’s an ongoing theme for conversation between my husband and me, how much we’re both drawn to strict forms. One thing I *didn’t* say in that post is that we deliberately wrote our wedding vows to follow the traditional Protestant ceremony form, but then went out of our way to deviate in every way possible but still stay within the boundaries. :-)

  2. Rebe says:

    My favorite post is definitely Jondalar: Father of All Alphaholes. How can it not be with that title?? I read a lot of fantasy growing up as well, but somehow I missed the wonktasticness that is this series. Clearly, I’ll have to remedy that immediately!

    Happy Wonkoversary, Ladies!

  3. Sabrina says:

    I’m a frequent lurker but don’t comment often. My favorite post was the Nerd Who Loved Me post – frackin love that book and how incredibly cool that the author commented in a great way. I love that she explained what happened with the series after changing publishers.

  4. Anna Cowan says:

    Happy birthday, Wonkomance!

    I can’t remember what post first got me over here, but the one that sticks in my mind is the post about Judith Ivory’s Black Silk. It made me so desperate to read that book (I still haven’t managed to track down a reasonably priced paper copy). My tastes are pretty wonky, and it’s the best having a website dedicated to talking wonky books.

    Also – yay to Mary Ann as a contributor! Can’t wait to read your posts.

  5. Sarah Wynde says:

    The one that sticks in my mind was Ruthie’s review of The Windflower. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one who had mixed feelings about that book!

  6. Jenni says:

    “Rizzo as Heroine” is the article that I mailed to everyone I knew. (Plus, I’d totally forgotten that her first name is Betty!!)

    Happiest of anniversaries to you! I love your wadonkawonks to pieces!!

  7. Jessi Gage says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    If you contribute to Wonk-O-Mance, I love you. Finding this blog is one of my highlights of 2012.

    Favorite Wonk-O-Mance post: Serena Bell’s October post on Oulander. Wonk or not? I vote Wonk. For definites. Also, Outlander is one of the few books I have read twice and will probably read again. Along with KMM, Diana Gabaldon inspired my foray into Highlander writings, the fruits of which I will soon reap (please, please, a little fruit would be wonderful). It is tied for most ambitious work of fiction I have read with Stephen King’s The Stand. And for those reasons, I love Outlander and am psyched to have it embraced by the wonk-o-munity.

    • Serena Bell says:

      Aw, thanks, man. That book totally changed my life. I was adrift in a sea of unsatisfying literary reading experiences interspersed with desperate attempts to slake my thirst with bad TV, and then someone made me read Outlander and now I LOVE ROMANCE SO FREAKIN’ MUCH.

  8. Kaetrin says:

    Definitely A Dewy Pink Rose by Any Other Name.

    Happy Wonkoversary and welcome to Mary Ann! :)

  9. Kelly says:

    Hi I am Kelly and new to blog but excited I found it and looking forward to getting to know everyone here in the new year.

  10. erinf1 says:

    Happy Blogoversary!!!! Can I claim to love them all :) Cuz I did!

  11. Diane Sallans says:

    At first I wasn’t sure where you were going with the term Wonky, but once I got the idea I’ve enjoyed my visits. The post titles like “Amnesiac virgin temptress meets erotica-writing superdad!” just crack me up. Congrats on the completion of the year!

  12. Kate D. says:

    Happy birthday, Wonkomance! I love you!

    I spent much of 2012 pondering issues related to literary genres, obsessing over current pop music, and writing book reviews as a desperate attempt to do something (anything!) to cure my writers block for poetry. As you can imagine, Serena’s post “Romance, Mystery, and the Blues,” as well as Mary Ann’s comments, basically blew my mind.

    Also, Ruthie’s video clip of the naked beekeeper in “Wonk is in the Blood” was burned into my brain; it floats to the surface of my consciousness at the most inopportune (and amusing) times.

    • Serena Bell says:

      Thank you!! How’s the writer’s block? Any better? Also, any recent pop music recommendations for me? My musical experimentation stalled out completely five years ago … although I have a nine-year-old so I should get a new influx soon …

      • Kate D. says:

        Well… I’m still not writing poetry, but I’m really enjoying writing essays.

        In the last year, since I started listening to pop music, I’ve discovered that I consistently like songs by Rhianna, Pink, and Katy Perry. Their music is catchy and often a little edgy at the same time.
        I like that contrast.

  13. Nicole says:

    Happy Birthday!

    And no memorable post, because I just discovered you. How the hell did I not come across this bastion of wonderfulness? Off to read posts.

  14. Eva P. says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve visited your blog before, there have been many posts, which caught my attention :) may not have necessarily left a comment, but I have enjoyed visiting!

  15. Megan says:

    I loved the post where we discussed what kind of men we want to see moving forward. You know, away from the rich, controlling billionaires and onto the broke, down-on-their-luck, heroes. :)

    Happy Anniversary!

  16. Jackie Horne says:

    Happy anniversary, Wonk-o-mance! Wish I had discovered you last year (why didn’t any of you fellow NECRWA’ers mention you were working on such a great blog???), and not just so I could be in the running for your great give-aways ;-). I’m really looking forward to reading what promise to be fascinating ruminations in 2013.

  17. Happy anniversary! Finding your blog is one of the best things that happened to me in 2012 as an avid romance reader. I’ve tried many (many!) romance novel review sites, only to end up wasting precious money and time on books which turned out to be cack. I’ve found romance reviewers seem to fall into two categories: a) the “this five-star book is awesome!” type, who point you in the direction of a book which is predictably pants, or b) the worthy “this novel is reminsicent of Middlemarch..” type, who point you in the direction of good books but who make you feel all reading is dull as ditchwater. Ruthie Knox’s review of The Windflower said it all about why I like you: “While I wish I’d been able to love everything about this wonky, epic, wonderful book, it’s a good reminder to writer-me that novels don’t have to be perfect — or even anything close to perfect — in order for readers to love them.” Thanks for pointing me in the direction of great books and above all making reading FUN! Here’s to more in 2013!

  18. flchen1 says:

    My goodness! I can’t believe this is my first visit! Happy first anniversary, and this was quite the recap–must go read through all the original posts now for myself! Thanks for the year of wonky fun!

  19. M.S. says:

    Happy year of wonking-and-bonking; here’s to many more. :) I’ve lurked forever (okay, for nearly a year) and this is my first comment, but I can’t resist sharing a few of my favorite posts from this blog:

    Ruthie giving a wonktastic stamp of approval to Kathleen O’Reilly’s Long Summer Nights, a post I read and thought, “I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE.” Some of O’Reilly’s books are among my favorite romances. I loved Midnight Resolutions, with the notoriously “unlikeable” ice queen of a heroine, and Beyond Breathless, where the two leads are in the same industry, and there’s no cutesy workplace competition between the two of them; instead, Jamie knowing she can’t match Andrew’s success, and trying to figure out if she can still be in a relationship with him. (And no “and she decided the industry/workplace wasn’t for her, she never liked it anyway” resolution to it, either.) Long story short, that post and recognition of KOR made me think I wasn’t so alone in loving romances that were willing to twist a branch or two of the genre tree.

    Serena’s post on When Kinky is Wonky and When It’s Not, particularly its final line, put a finger on why I love wonky romances so much. I want love, in a general sense not just a specific sense, to always be bigger and deeper than I think it is.

    And more recently, Cara’s post A Love That Festers Through the Ages has stuck with me, particularly in the comparison of the Hughs. (And I’ve appreciated the recs in the comments, too!)

    Thanks to all of you for providing such interesting content this past year. You’ve provided me with books and thoughts that have helped me believe in and love the romance genre more and more.

    • Serena Bell says:

      Thanks for the vote on Kinky & Wonky–for some reason, I have stayed a little uneasy about that whole topic (it’s tied in to the whole “what turns me on is normal & what turns you on is kinky/wonky” conundrum), and it’s nice to know someone resonated to that post!

  20. willaful says:

    I think what I most like about this blog is how often I feel compelled to share it with my friends outside the romance community — the “Star Trek” post for one. That happens very rarely with the blogs I read.

    For a favorite memory, I have to go with Ruthie’s review of Beau Crusoe, since it was from my recommendation. :-) Now, someone point me to this moomin post, because if there’s anything here about moomins, I need to read it. (You are talking about Tove Jannson’s Finnish creatures, right?)

  21. ClaudiaGC says:

    Definitely Fine Young Cannibal because I love the book Beau Crusoe and it was the first post I read here on Wonkomance.

    Happy Wonkoversary! :)

  22. Lisa Hutson says:

    Congratulations on the success of wonk o mance. :-) Love the wonky name. Its fun to say. haha Continued success.

  23. Late to the party, but wanted to chime in to say how much I’ve enjoyed your posts! Jondalar, the naughty bits one, were fave discussions too, but also for me, it’s led me to new books (I bought and loved that cannibal one and I would never have found it otherwise. Same with the Girl With the Cat Tattoo and Love is a Battlefield) as well as turning me onto Stage Beauty, as well as the rest of the authors on here (only knew of Ruthie before) and their books!