Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Today's Special - - Jane Graves

It's our pleasure to welcome Jane Graves to The Romance Dish.  Jane is an award winning contemporary author and seven time finalist for RWA's Rita Award.  Her newest release is BLACK TIES AND LULLABIES (check out Gannon's review here) which was released July 1st.  Jane's blog topic today is "Make Me Laugh," which is very appropriate as her books always make me laugh!  Please give her a very warm welcome!

Make Me Laugh!

I love hanging out with funny people. If you have a genuine sense of humor, come sit next to me, because the best feeling on earth for me is to laugh myself silly. I have several wonderful friends who are so hilarious they make me practically wet my pants. Aside of my occasional need for Depends, I consider their humor to be no less than a gift from God. And I try my best to return the favor as often as I can.

The funniest people I know share one thing in common—they don’t hesitate to laugh at themselves. I don’t care what’s happening to you--most of the time, life just ain’t that tragic. Smile and the world smiles with you. Frown, and you’ll clear a room faster than a fire alarm.

I’ve often been asked to explain the secret behind writing funny stuff, and for me, there’s only one answer: It’s all in the way you view the world. Let’s say you come out of a public restroom with eight feet of toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Somebody points it out to you. If you turn ten shades of red and rush back into the restroom, you might not see things from a comedic point of view. If, on the other hand, you ask a friend to take a photo of it and you use it as your Facebook profile picture, you probably don’t have much trouble finding humor wherever you go. And if you’re a writer, you won’t have much trouble putting it on the page.

I adore Larry the Cable Guy. Why? Because he’ll go for jokes that a lot of comedians are afraid to tell. With humor, you have to be fearless. It’s not that you should try to offend people, but if there’s something out there that’s true, everybody knows it’s true, and it’s also funny as hell, say it. People will laugh, and that’s not a bad thing. It just says we’re all in this together. And what does Larry the Cable Guy say after a joke where everybody’s laughing, even though they “know” they shouldn’t be? He says, “I don’t care who you are, that there’s funny.” And he’s right. In other words, you can get all huffy about it, or you can recognize the universal truth in it (and the humor) and let go with a laugh.

So what makes you laugh in a romance novel? Is it banter between characters who are smart and witty? Out of control situations that escalate wildly beyond a character’s ability to manage them? Fish out of water who have no clue how to behave in the crazy world they find themselves in?

In my book that’s on the shelves right now, BLACK TIES AND LULLABIES, the comedy arises when I force a hero and heroine together who view the world from totally different places and appear to have absolutely nothing in common. They were secondary characters in a previous book of mine, HOT WHEELS AND HIGH HEELS--irreverent, multimillionaire playboy Jeremy Bridges and his tough, no-nonsense bodyguard, Bernadette Hogan. I’ve actually had readers tell me, after reading their interaction in HOT WHEELS and before reading BLACK TIES, that I must have lost my mind by making them the hero and heroine of their own book. How in the world, they say, is that ever going to work out? But you and I both know that opposites do attract, and the fun comes when you take two highly dissimilar people, toss them together in a book, and then watch the fireworks as they fight their way toward their happily ever after.

For my readers, laughter is the best medicine. I just fill the prescription. I wouldn’t say all my books are uproarious comedies—they vary quite a bit in that regard—but you’re going to find at least some humor in every one of them. To me, life is so full of it that I couldn’t keep it from slopping over to my writing if my life depended on it.

So...if you and I ever happen to cross paths sometime in the future (hint: I’ll be the one with a smile on my face and a glass of Cabernet in my hand) and you have a great sense of humor, feel free to sit down next to me and make me laugh. I’ll try to return the favor!

Oh, one last thing—would you also watch for my next book coming out in just a few months? HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS hits the shelves on September 27. Don’t take this wrong, but I hope it makes you wet your pants.

Jane is giving away two copies of her current book, BLACK TIES AND LULLABIES to two random commenters so ask questions, leave comments about the blog or tell Jane what makes you laugh in a romance novel.  Good luck!


  1. Hello Jane! I enjoyed reading your post, especially when I found out that you too like Larry the Cable Guy.

    As for what makes me laugh in a romance novel...I really enjoy the witty conversations between the hero and heroine. Julie Anne Long's "What I Did for a Duke" is a great example of a book that makes me laugh.

  2. Congratulations on the new book Jane! Whenever there's a question of what characteristics you want in a hero or heroine I always list a sense of humor as a must. I think it's necessary for a relationship to survive. It's usually the characters reaction to ridiculous situations that make me laugh in a romance

  3. I love humor in a book. It feels so great to laugh. I like when couples are arguing about silly things and trying to explain why they are so mad.

  4. Hi Jane! It's great to see you here at The Romance Dish.

    I love humor in books! One of my all time favorite comedic scenes in a romance is the Pall Mall scene in JQ's The Viscount Who Loved Me. Makes me laugh every time, no matter how many times I've read it. The 2nd Epilogue she wrote, which includes the Pall Mall rematch is a comedic gem as well.

    But most of all, what I find really funny is snappy banter and witty dialogue which is why I love Beatrix and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Julie James writes great snappy dialogue too. :)

  5. I do enjoy humor in books and thank you for writing them.

    Most of what you mention banter, situations, etc make me laugh. The last book I read that made me laugh was your I Got You Babe. Before that was Lynsay Sands and her 'stinky cat' encounter.

    d53a @ aol.com

  6. Jill Shalvis and Sandra Hill make me laugh!

    great dialogue is the key to humor
    also comical situations a la I Love Lucy!
    I'm going to look for your earlier work too!

    johnslake at usa dot com

  7. Hello and welcome, Jane! We are happy to have you dishing with us today. :) Congrats on your newest release! I enjoyed Gannon's review so much that I added BT&L to my list. I can't wait to read it!

    I love witty banter between the hero and heroine. Some of my favorite authors who do it well are Julia Quinn (the Pall Mall scene is CLASSIC!), Eloisa James, and Suzanne Enoch for historicals; Julie James, Jill Shalvis, and Jacquie D'Alessandro for contemporaries. Love them all!

  8. Hi, Jane. Congrats on your release!

    My husband, daughter, and I like Larry the Cable Guy's show "Only In America". He is funny, but he also knows when to be respectful with his humor (as in the show with the Mennonite farmers).

    I love to have humor in romance. I like the light-hearted moments in a story between the hero and heroine. I agree with Lisa about the Pall Mall scene. I also read a story where the heroine decides to climb a tree in her long dress, gets stuck like the proverbial kitty, and the hero helps her down, after making funny comments to her, of course.

    Thanks for your post today.

  9. Jane, you sound like my kind of friend. I love to laugh and just don't "hang" with people who are downers. Life is too short to not squeeze as much fun and happiness as possible out of every day. Your book sounds like my kind of read. I love a romance with humor mixed in which is one reason I also like Julia Quinn. Can't wait to get your book and read it. Thanks for sharing!

    Connie Fischer

  10. Antonia, Larry the Cable Guy kills me. Seriously. But it's only because he's so smart that he's so funny (you can't be dumb and funny--maybe more on that later!). Watch him interviewed sometime if you haven't already and you'll see what I mean.

    And I'm all about the witty banter, too. And if you'll notice, whenever that happens in a book and it's GOOD, both characters give as good as they get. One character may have the upper hand for a while, but those tables WILL turn. And that's where the fun is!

  11. Maureen--about characters' reactions to ridiculous situations, I totally agree. And sometimes if a hero and heroine are together reacting to something ridiculous that's affecting both of them, it can be both a humorous moment in the book as well as a bonding moment for them as a couple.

  12. runner10--on characters explaining why they're so mad. Kinda reminds me of Cal's obsession with his Lucky Charms in SEP's NOBODY'S BABY BUT MINE, when Jane picks all the marshmallows out of the box. Hell hath no fury like a man with no marshmallows in his Lucky Charms.

    Of course, then he called her a Cereal Killer, which is an entirely different kind of humor!

  13. Dawn, I'm glad I GOT YOU, BABE made you laugh. That was the first single title book I ever sold. That book was a Rita Award finalist back in 2001. It's out of print now, but you just might see it available again sometime very soon...

  14. Laurie G, I LOVE I Love Lucy, too! When my daughter was little, every time an episode began, we'd see who could name it the fastest.

    And that points up something else about writing comedy. The characters NEVER think what's happening to them is funny, which is why it's so funny to us. I heard a wise writer once say, "If the characters are laughing, the readers are not." When all that candy was coming down the conveyor belt and Lucy and Ethel got behind and were doing anything they could to dispose of the candy, they didn't think it was particularly funny, and that was why it was so funny to us.

    In fact, I'm such a Lucy fan that in my September 27 book, HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS, my heroine names her three cats Lucy, Ricky, and Ethel. She's just praying if a fourth homeless kitty lands on her front porch, it's a boy. A girl cat named Fred would be really weird.

  15. love your books and will definitely get the next one....and the next one after that!

  16. Congratulations on your new book! I love it when a book makes me really laugh. Sometimes I just need a book like that. I know it's a good sign when the hero and heroine make me really laugh and the pages fly by. :) I admit there are other times when I want to read a "darker" book, too.
    I love the sound of Blackties and Lullabies. Good luck with it!

  17. I am eager to read Black Ties and Lullabies and Heartstrings and Diamond Rings. I've been a fan since Tall Tales and Wedding Veils. I love your titles! They make me smile.

    I think shared laughter is an important part of relationships, whether those relationships be between lovers, between friends, or between author and reader. I recently read Miranda Neville's The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton, and one of the many things I loved about the book was my sense that the author was smiling with me at the antics of her characters.

    I don't agree that readers aren't laughing when characters are laughing though. One of my favorite scenes in all of romance fiction is the ending of Mary Balogh's The Famous Heroine, a book filled with laughter that ends with the H/H laughing together and looking forward to a life together filled with love and hilarity. It always leaves me laughing.

  18. What makes me laugh in a romance novel? Dry wit is good. You mentioned situations that get out of control and fish out of water situations. A definite yes to both. A sense of the ridiculous is a great asset for both the author and the reader. I am not a fan of coarse humor, but when someone is stuck in a situation that is akin to herding cats and things progressively get out of control, I can certainly relate.
    Best of luck with the release of both your books.

  19. Hi Jane,

    Love is funny. People do ridiculous things for the one they love. There is a great song in "Guys and Dolls' describing what men go through for women. Humor makes the book characters real.

    Mary Jo

  20. Hi Jane,
    I loved, loved, loved Black Ties & Lullabies! And I laughed a lot while reading it. Mostly at the interaction between Jeremy and Bernie--truly funny stuff there. Can't wait for Heartstrings & Diamond Rings!

  21. Great post and I love the cover of this book, can't wait to read it. Do you base any real life things in the book your write?

  22. "Antonia, Larry the Cable Guy kills me. Seriously. But it's only because he's so smart that he's so funny (you can't be dumb and funny--maybe more on that later!). Watch him interviewed sometime if you haven't already and you'll see what I mean."

    @ Jane: I saw some clips with him online.

    However, the first time I saw him was during high-school. Me and my classmates saw one of his stand up comedy shows on DVD during one of our classes. It makes you wonder how much we actually studied that day. lol

    "And if you'll notice, whenever that happens in a book and it's GOOD, both characters give as good as they get. One character may have the upper hand for a while, but those tables WILL turn. And that's where the fun is!"

    That is so true.

  23. Congratulations on this great book. I enjoy smart dialogue which means entertaining and interesting relationships. Best wishes.

  24. Your post was interesting. Congrats on your new release. I enjoy books that have witty repartee.

  25. Great post Jane I do so love to laugh it is the best medicine for coping with life.

    I love witty banter between characters in a book and I am always laughing when reading stories like this and my family often pull faces at me when I am reading a good book.

    Have Fun

  26. Thanks for that insightful blog post. I just love fun in the books I read.
    I could tell you my embarassing moment but I didn't run with it so I will pass
    Love & Hugs,

  27. Hi, Jane! Sorry I'm so late checking in.

    I love Larry the Cable Guy, as well as the rest of the Blue Collar Comedy crew. I saw Ron White in concert a couple of months ago. Hilarious!

    Witty banter definitely makes me laugh. Loved Black Ties and Lullabies--definitely tickled my funny bone!

    I just read The Devilish Montague and there is a parrot named Percy in the book who is constantly spouting profanity. I laughed throughout the whole book.

  28. Hi, Tracy!

    Thanks for your kind words about BLACK TIES. So glad you enjoyed it!

  29. Virginia--I don't base the stuff on my books on real life very often. Usually just little things here and there. As far as this series, though, they're all set in Plano, Texas, the suburb of Dallas I live next to.

    But there's one character in Black Ties that is loosely based on reality. I had a friend once who used to talk about a few rather unseemly members of her family. She was SO funny when she told the stories that I never forgot them. The character of Billy, Bernie's deadbeat cousin, is based on those people my friend talked about.

    Otherwise, I pretty much make stuff up!

  30. Gannon, I'm with you. Ron White is HILARIOUS. All the Blue Collar Comedy guys are so funny. Love them!

  31. Pamela, so you have an embarrassing moment you're not telling us? What would you think if I told you the eight feet of toilet paper stuck to a shoe I talked about in my blog post actually happened to me?

    True. I was in college. At a dance club. I didn't end up with a picture of it, but only because I wasn't surrounded back then by dozens of people with iPhones with cameras!

  32. Thanks a million, everyone, for dropping by to chat with me today. And I meant what I said in my blog post. If you ever see me at a conference or a booksigning or whatever, come right over and sit down next to me, remind me of this blog, and then...MAKE ME LAUGH!

  33. Laughter is a wonderful thing and something I often take for granted. Sometimes I forget how good a romance can truly be, without any angst or highly charge emotional drama. Emotional is good but light-hearted fun should always have a place. Sometimes the best things in life are what life throws at you. The banter between the characters paired with the out of control situation will create the perfect laugh-out-loud moment for me. What is important though is that the funny moments come naturally and with ease, otherwise if it's forced it becomes awkward. An adorable pet in the picture is a no fail way to inset some laughter, especially if they are creating chaos just being themselves.

  34. I love a great sense of humor in a man, and I love it in a hero as well. There's nothing like a hero who can make witty remarks and make light of any troubling situation, it totally makes the book for me.

  35. Hi, when choosing titles such as BLACK TIES AND LULLABIES and HOT WHEELS AND HIGH HEELS do you work it out aloud?? I just ask because both these titles beg to be said out loud. They flow & lilt. Love that.

  36. Hi Jane! I love your books! I love laugh out loud humor in a book and altho I like Larry the Cable guy I liek Bill Engval a bit better (here's your sign) and now I see him every week on Hawthorne and some of his scenes are funny (his leering looks at people are too much) Keep writing I am waiting...plan to get your new book soon....

  37. I can totally relate to what everyone is saying about "witty dialogue" between the hero and heroine in books. I just love it too.
    That being said, I would love to recommend A BLAZING LITTLE CHRISTMAS. I enjoyed all of its stories, but the one that made my laugh and then cry four pages later was Kathleen O'Reilly's story called "Dear Santa..." OMG! I was waiting in a clinic for over an hour one day, and I could not contain my laughter - several times! Sort of embarrassing, but not really....

  38. Someone I'm friends with on Goodreads added this to their to read pile and once I saw it I had to add it to mine too It looks like a fabulous book and I can not wait to get my hands on it!

  39. Marybelle--yes, my titles are all about the "lilt." How it sounds out loud. For my next book, my editor suggested "Diamond Rings and Heartstrings." I told her I loved it, but they needed to turn it around to "Heartstrings and Diamond Rings." See the difference?

  40. Laney4--it doesn't surprise me that one of Kathleen O'Reilly's stories made you laugh out loud. She's one of those wonderful people who always has a smile on her face. Definitely someone who can sit down beside you and make you laugh!

  41. I find the situation you mentioned funny, two characters looking at things from different perspectives. I also enjoy characters who think their talking about the same thing, but aren't casuing great confusion and just plain witty writing and dialog.

    I like some humor in any genre I read.

  42. Congratulations on the new release. This is the second time today that I read a nice review about this book. It sounds like a fun read.

  43. Hey Jane! Sorry I'm late to the party! Congrats on the book. I have heard great things about it. I love when a romance novel can make me laugh too. Nothing like a hearty, full laugh to make me feel better.