Friday, October 9, 2009

Abingdon and Heartsong Author Myra Johnson

Gina here: I love this theme because I love science. Well, actually I don't love science. And math...well, it's just blech! However, the art of adding a little bit of this to a little bit of that, along with a dash of something-something to create Waalah-Yum-O totally fascinates me. Have you ever checked the back of a cookbook and seen all the things you can substitute for those items you don't have? I'm the queen of substitution. (Although my family prefers chicken to really be chicken. How weird are they?)
Writing is much like cooking. Raising children is much like cooking. Cleaning house is much like cooking. Okay, that's stretching it.
The point to my ramble is that as we go through life we meet people who season us, who give us zest, who preserve us through the winter, and who change us from dullish cucumbers into dillish pickles. About a year or two ago, I met a group of ladies who've become God's ingredients into making me a better writer: The Seekers. I could spend blog post after blog post sharing what I've learned--and like about--each of them.
One of those ladies is here with us today: Myra Johnson. Not only does Myra write tender-hearted Christian romances, but (please hear me squealing with excitement) she lives in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, and the waving wheat does sure smell sweet, right behind the rain! Yes, that is one of the few songs I can sing and do motions to at the same time. Yay, me!
Take it away, Myra.
First of all, my thanks to Gina for inviting me to contribute a guest post today! Gina told me this is recipe week and that I could blog about almost anything as long as I included a recipe.

Oh, good grief. Gina apparently does not know that the kitchen is NOT my friend. I avoid cooking at every possible opportunity! In fact, for several years now I have been trying to coax my semi-retired husband into learning a few cooking skills. Without much success, I hasten to add. He’s pretty good at boiling spaghetti and heating up sauce from a jar. He can grill a tasty burger or steak (if I provide the seasonings or marinade). But anything involving reading a recipe and its, “Uh, honey, how do I do this?”

The thing is, life changed dramatically after I sold my first book last year. I suddenly had real deadlines and a whole new array of responsibilities—edits, revisions, page proofs, book promotion, all in addition to trying to write the next book. Which means it’s not as easy as it used to be to break away at 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. and then decide what’s for dinner. So we keep things fairly simple, usually a one-dish meal or something we can grill on the George Foreman. The microwave is also my friend.

But as the holiday season approaches, even non-cooks like me can’t escape the lure of at least a modicum of baking. Something about the advent of Thanksgiving and Christmas (yes, I know it’s still a little early, but you know how time flies) brings to mind the aromas of frosted cookies, pumpkin pies, and other assorted sugary baked goods sure to wreak havoc on your waistline.

A long-time holiday favorite around my house is a Danish coffee cake recipe given to me by a friend and pastor’s wife some 37 years ago. It’s decadently delicious (which means it’s probably not good for you)!

Crust: Blend 1 cup flour, ½ cup butter, and 2 tablespoons water as if making a pie crust. Roll into two long strips 3 inches wide and ¼ inch thick. Place on cookie sheet.

Top layer: Mix ½ cup butter and 1 cup water, bring to a boil and add 1 teaspoon almond flavoring. Remove from heat and beat in 1 cup flour stirring by hand continually to prevent lumps. Cool slightly, then stir in 3 eggs one at a time beating well by hand. Spread over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Spread with powdered-sugar icing and top with nuts, candied fruit, or other toppings as desired. (For Christmas I like to arrange green and red candied cherries in the shape of poinsettias.)

Best when served in front of a toasty fire with a cup of hot spiced tea, steaming cocoa, or maybe some hazelnut decaf! (Are those Christmas carols I hear in the background?)

About Myra: Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she’s proud to be a new Oklahoman. Empty-nesters now, she and her husband share their home with two loveable dogs and a snobby parakeet. Her debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, is a September 2009 release from Abingdon Press. She also writes for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. Autumn Rains, winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript, releases this month, to be followed in 2010 by Romance by the Book and Where the Dogwoods Bloom. Myra and her husband have been married since 1972. The Johnsons have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

Myra’s books:

One Imperfect Christmas: Natalie Pearce loves Christmas so much she’d gladly make it a year-round celebration—until her mother suffers a massive stroke while taking down the decorations. Natalie’s guilt over not being there to help her mom soon builds a wall that separates her from the rest of her family, including her husband, Daniel, and their teenage daughter. As the next December approaches, the last thing Natalie wants to be reminded of is another Christmas season. Only her family’s tenacious love and an unexpected Christmas gift from her mother can help Natalie mend the broken pieces of their lives.

One Imperfect Christmas is available (or can be ordered) through any major bookstore, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Since Cokesbury Books is the retail arm of Abingdon Press, readers can probably find the best discounts in your local store or at the Cokesbury Website.

Autumn Rains: Healy Ferguson knows all about prisons, both the real and the emotional kind. Paying your dues to society doesn’t always mean you’ve paid your dues to yourself, and often the price you exact on yourself far exceeds the crime. Valerie Bishop is caught in the emotional prison of post-traumatic stress disorder, unable to venture more than a few feet out her back door. Shadowy moments from a night she can’t remember bombard her without warning, keeping her trapped between the painful past and a future seemingly without hope. But God promises to repay the years that have been lost; for those who trust in Him, He promises refreshing, life-giving rain. Will Val and Healy trust to see God’s perfect plan, or will they choose the chains that hold them back?
Gina here: Thanks, Myra, for the fabulous recipe. Before you leave, can you tell our readers how they can find you?
Excellent question! My Website is
I also blog at,, and
My Facebook fan page can be found at
To follow me on Twitter, look up

Thanks, Myra!
Dear Readers, if you’d like to be entered to win one of Myra's books or a collection of Inkalicious recipes, just leave a comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). We'll pick two winners at random on Oct. 11. Remember, all comments left today will also be entered in our grand prize drawing on November 1st.

Serious Question of the Day: Who's been the salt, chocolate chips, or vinegar in your life and made you a better cupcake for it?

Non-Serious Question of the Day: It's your last meal of your life and you HAVE to eat something. Would you choose a plate of Goolash or an entire rhubarb pie? And if you aren't sure what Goolash or rhubarb are, just imagine something icky that my mom...umm, your mom fed you when you were a child.


  1. Oooo! I would love to win a copy of Myra's newest release ~ One Imperfect Christmas! I'm a sucker for Christmas-themed stories...I just can't pass them up. LOL

    My hubby is my chocolate chips! *grin*

    Thank you for sharing!
    ~ Lori


  2. Great to see you here, Myra! I'm in total agreement with you... keeping it simple is the rule in my kitchen. When it comes to the holidays, I've discovered the best, most stress-free way of doing it. I purchase a pre-cooked meal! When I lived in CA, I got it from Boston Market. But we don't have them in Las Vegas, so now I buy my holiday meals from Vons. And they are delicious! I just heat everything up and serve it. Thankfully, my son & hubby are just as easy going about food as I am, so we're all happy :+}

  3. Hi Myra. Pointsettia designs out of the dried fruit eh?

    Thanks for visiting Inktropolis. It was great to meet you in Denver. I can say that the Seekers are the chocolate chips in my writing life because you all share the real-life practical side of what the writing "how-to" books teach. And you offer a wacky sort of Christian Women Writers Fellowship that has really blessed me.
    Your blurb of Autumn Rains is a knockout. "Read Me!" I'll be making a trip to the big city book store.

    I will try this recipe next month. Perhaps using dried fruit to make a coffee cake mural of the first thanksgiving.

    Gina. Rhubarb Pie should come with fine print: has been known to cause dietary distress in some people and emotional distress to others.

  4. Debra! You just reminded me that I used to also make the Danish coffee cake by shaping it into a wreath instead of the two long rectangles. So yes, definitely get creative with this recipe.

    The Seekers have definitely been my "chocolate chips" of life, with regular doses of vinegar thrown in (a la Ruthy--bless her heart!). My dear sweet husband is the salt of the earth, literally. Couldn't do what I do without his support.

    And I'll take a hefty serving of rhubarb pie, please. It's been ages since I've had any!

  5. Welcome to the Inkwell, Myra. Your recipe sound delectable. I'll have to try it in Dec since I hope to be doing Nanowrimo in Nov.

    Rhubarb is one of the few fruits that grow well on the Prairies. Hubby's fav is rhubarb crisp. My mom used to stew rhubarb with strawberries and can it. We'd have it for dessert once a week all winter. I remember it made my teeth slippery. LOL

    For Christmas I like to arrange green and red candied cherries in the shape of poinsettias.
    I would really like to see this. Have you posted about it on your blog? Could you with photos from a previous year, perhaps?

    Appreciate you coming by, Myra and thanks Gina for inviting her.

  6. LOL, Anita Mae, I must confess it's been so long since I actually got creative with Christmas baking that it might take me a couple of decades to dig up an actual photo of the Danish recipe with candied-cherry poinsettias.

    I do remember that I would cut each cherry into about 6 wedges to make the petal shapes. Then you sort of . . . stick the reds ones around in a flower shape . . . and sort of make little leaf thingies sticking out with the green ones.


  7. Hey, Gina and Myra -- FUN interview ... and very tasty, I might add. Your recipe is right up my alley, Myra, so I'll have to give it a shot.

    But I have to admit, your penchant for arranging green and red candied cherries in the shape of poinsettia at Christmas sent a shiver down my spine. You see, before I started writing (and before I got old!) I used to bake 60 dozen cookies at Christmas and 30 miniature rum cakes for cookie plates I'd give to neighbors and friends.

    I swear, It would take me almost 20 minutes to decorate ONE iced snowman cookie because I would make 3 different color buttercream icings from scratch and paint striped scarves and colored hats and mittens on each cookie, all decorated with red hots or sprinkles or something glitzy. It was disgusting, and I still can't believe I did it. Not to mention the Chicken Wellington pastry I would decorate with real cranberries in the center of green pastry holly leaves that I made from scratch. Trust me, I was one sick puppy!

    Sheesh ... now I'm hungry!


  8. ummm! That coffee cake sounds 'licious! I'd love to win one of Myra's books and maybe a coffee cake, too? LOL crmcc at setel dot com

  9. Oh, my, Julie! Are you sure your name didn't used to be Martha Lessman?????

  10. Rose, if you win, I am absolutely NOT mailing you a coffee cake. You must just make your own, dearie.

  11. Here I am, late to the party as usual. Myra, I'm so glad you visited us today. I loved reading your post. I can't wait to read your book. It sounds so wonderful. I enjoy reading fiction novels about married couples and the challenges they face.

    Gina, you always ask such good (if a little funny) questions.

    If it was my last meal, I'd eat pumpkin pie. Mmm! Thanks for mentioning it, Myra! I once ate 5 pies in one day. And I was skinny then, too. Er, um, maybe that's why I'm not skinny now.

  12. My kids have made me half baked and nuts, so I'll give them credit for the serious question.

    If it's the last meal of my life, Gina, honey, how could anyone make me eat anything I didn't want to. I mean what are they gonna do? KILL ME????

    Anyway, I make fantastic goulash and I LOVE rhubarb pie and have a huge rhubarb patch. So no icky nothin' here. :)
    I guess I'll take the pie and ... the whole pie? Well, I'll eat it slow.

  13. Yummm the coffee cake sounds terrific...and so do the books!

    In answer to the non-serious ? I'd probably say rhubarb pie...with strawberries ;-)even though I think rhubarb is evil stuff! As for the serious question I'd have to say my brothers are the salt in my life...there are none better to get the ol' blood pressure rising!

    xoxo~ Renee

  14. My husband gets the credit for making me a better "cupcake" in life. Great blog post!

    I've been following Myra's book on the blog tours and would love to read One Imperfect Christmas. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  15. LOL--leave it to Mary to put the whole "last meal" scenario into perspective!

    All this talk about rhubarb has brought back such sweet memories of when my grandma used to bake rhubarb pies. Who would ever think "red celery" could taste so yummy???

    Once again, I am deeply touched and honored by all the interest in my debut novel. Thanks, everyone!!!


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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.