Stories of the Heart: What Amanda Wants\Small Packages\Worth the Risk [NOOK Book]


Even as you read these words, there are women just like you stepping up and making a difference in their communities, making our world a better place to live. Three such exceptional women have been selected as recipients of Harlequin's More Than Words award. To celebrate their accomplishments, three bestselling authors have written short stories inspired by these real-life ...
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Stories of the Heart: What Amanda Wants\Small Packages\Worth the Risk

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Even as you read these words, there are women just like you stepping up and making a difference in their communities, making our world a better place to live. Three such exceptional women have been selected as recipients of Harlequin's More Than Words award. To celebrate their accomplishments, three bestselling authors have written short stories inspired by these real-life heroines.

Debbie Macomber touches the heart in What Amanda Wants—a young woman's story of strength and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Brenda Novak's Small Packages shows us how the love of a very special baby boy helps two people get past their pain and embrace a hopeful future…together.

Meryl Sawyer explores the importance of creating balance in our lives, stopping to smell the roses and making time to chase our dreams in Worth the Risk.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459222953
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Sales rank: 230,615
  • File size: 342 KB

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.


Publishing did not come easy to self-described "creative speller" Debbie Macomber. When Macomber decided to follow her dreams of becoming a bestselling novelist, she had a lot of obstacles in her path. For starters, Macomber is dyslexic. On top of this, she had only a high school degree, four young children at home, and absolutely no connections in the publishing world. If there's one thing you can say about Debbie Macomber, however, it is that she does not give up. She rented a typewriter and started writing, determined to break into the world of romance fiction.

The years went on and the rejection letters piled up. Her family was living on a shoestring budget, and Debbie was beginning to think that her dreams of being a novelist might never be fulfilled. She began writing for magazines to earn some extra money, and she eventually saved up enough to attend a romance writer's conference with three hundred other aspiring novelists. The organizers of the conference picked ten manuscripts to review in a group critique session. Debbie was thrilled to learn that her manuscript would be one of the novels discussed.

Her excitement quickly faded when an editor from Harlequin tore her manuscript to pieces in front of the crowded room, evoking peals of laughter from the assembled writers. Afterwards, Macomber approached the editor and asked her what she could do to improve her novel. "Throw it away," the editor suggested.

Many writers would have given up right then and there, but not Macomber. The deeply religious Macomber took a lesson from Job and gathered strength from adversity. She returned home and mailed one last manuscript to Silhouette, a publisher of romance novels. "It cost $10 to mail it off," Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. "My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can't tell you what $10 was to us at that time."

It turned out to be the best $10 Macomber ever spent. In 1984, Silhouette published her novel, Heartsong. (Incidentally, although Heartsong was Macomber's first sale, she actually published another book, Starlight, before Heartsong went to print.) Heartsong went on to become the first romance novel to ever be reviewed in Publishers Weekly, and Macomber was finally on her way.

Today, Macomber is one of the most widely read authors in America. A regular on the New York Times bestseller charts, she is best known for her Cedar Cove novels, a heartwarming story sequence set in a small town in Washington state, and for her Knitting Books series, featuring a group of women who patronize a Seattle yarn store. In addition, her backlist of early romances, including several contemporary Westerns, has been reissued with great success.

Macomber has made a successful transition from conventional romance to the somewhat more flexible genre known as "women's fiction." "I was at a point in my life where I found it difficult to identify with a 25-year-old heroine," Macomber said in an interview with "I found that I wanted to write more about the friendships women share with each other." To judge from her avid, ever-increasing fan base, Debbie's readers heartily approve.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Macomber:

"I'm dyslexic, although they didn't have a word for it when I was in grade school. The teachers said I had 'word blindness.' I've always been a creative speller and never achieved good grades in school. I graduated from high school but didn't have the opportunity to attend college, so I did what young women my age did at the time -- I married. I was a teenager, and Wayne and I (now married nearly 37 years) had four children in five years."

"I'm a yarnaholic. That means I have more yarn stashed away than any one person could possibly use in three or four lifetimes. There's something inspiring about yarn that makes me feel I could never have enough. Often I'll go into my yarn room (yes, room!) and just hold skeins of yarn and dream about projects. It's a comforting thing to do."

"My office walls are covered with autographs of famous writers -- it's what my children call my ‘dead author wall.' I have signatures from Mark Twain, Earnest Hemingway, Jack London, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Pearl Buck, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to name a few."

"I'm morning person, and rip into the day with a half-mile swim (FYI: a half mile is a whole lot farther in the water than it is on land) at the local pool before I head into the office, arriving before eight. It takes me until nine or ten to read through all of the guest book entries from my web site and the mail before I go upstairs to the turret where I do my writing. Yes, I write in a turret -- is that romantic, or what? I started blogging last September and really enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my life with my readers. Once I'm home for the day, I cook dinner, trying out new recipes. Along with cooking, I also enjoy eating, especially when the meal is accompanied by a glass of good wine. Wayne and I take particular pleasure in sampling eastern Washington State wines (since we were both born and raised in that part of the state).

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    1. Hometown:
      Port Orchard, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yakima, Washington
    1. Education:
      Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Amanda knew. She knew even before Dr. Fleishman stepped into the room with her chart in his hand. Before he spoke the words that would forever change her life. She knew. The cancer was back.

She'd always realized that it might return, but she'd been cancer-free for almost eight years. An intellectual understanding of something wasn't the same as an emotional acceptance. Perhaps she'd grown complacent, convinced that after all this time she was cured. As a childhood-cancer survivor, perhaps she'd come to believe she was invincible.

The silence that followed his announcement reminded her of the eerie lack of sound before a storm. Before the thunder and lightning and torrential rain.

"Amanda," Dr. Fleishman said, breaking into her thoughts.

He wanted her attention, but she couldn't give it to him. Instead, she continued to stare at the floor. She didn't look up. She couldn't. Not just then. It would take a few minutes for the news to settle, a few minutes before she could face him.

It was the same with her mother. Joan Jennings sat in the chair next to Amanda's and it seemed as if all the life had drained out of her. Suddenly, after that long, awkward silence, Amanda's mother started to weep.

"I'm so sorry," Dr. Fleishman said softly.

Amanda nodded. Needing to hold on to something, she reached for her mother's hand. "It'll be all right, Mom," she whispered. She didn't know where that encouragement came from because she didn't feel it. Her entire world was about to implode.

"I guess this means I won't be cheerleading at the pep rally, doesn't it?" She tried hard to make a joke of it. She failed miserably; she didn't even sound like herself.

"Not this year," Dr. Fleishman murmured in reply.

She honestly hadn't expected an answer. He seemed so calm about it, but why shouldn't he be? It wasn't his life that was taking a nosedive. Anyway, the cheerleading thing was minor. More importantly, the Junior/Senior Prom was in May. By then her hair would've fallen out and Lance… She couldn't do that to him, couldn't embarrass him that way. The dress she loved, and had saved countless months for, would languish in her closet. Maybe she could be buried in it. Funny, the idea of dying didn't immediately upset her. She noticed then that her mother and Dr. Fleishman were carrying on a conversation.

Amanda sat there, half listening while they exchanged questions and answers. When he saw that he finally had Amanda's attention, Dr. Fleishman outlined a treatment schedule.

Amanda tried to take it all in but she couldn't. By the

j time they left the office, her mother had stopped crying. She clutched a wet tissue in her hand, and Amanda was afraid she'd dissolve into heart-wrenching sobs once again. Maybe in public.

"I don't want anyone to know," Amanda insisted as they walked toward the parking complex.

"We're going to do whatever it takes," her mother said with a grim set to her mouth. "I don't care what it costs. I don't care how much the insurance company fights us— I'll fight harder."

Her mother hadn't even heard her.

"You weren't listening to me," Amanda said. All her mother could think about was the money and how much

j these treatments were going to cost and struggling with the insurance company. Amanda wanted an iPod and her mother had claimed it wasn't in the budget. But chemo, radiation, a bone-marrow transplant would cost a whole lot more.

"What did you say?" her mother asked. "When?"

"You said I wasn't listening. Tell me what you said."

"Annie," she whispered. "I'll tell Annie." Annie was one of her best friends, and Amanda wouldn't be able to keep this news from her. Besides, when she didn't show up for the pep rally rehearsal, Annie would know something was wrong. So would Laurie, another of her good friends.

" I blame this on that party job," her mother said angrily.

"What?" Amanda stared at her in shocked disbelief. She worked with Annie and her mother on their birthday party business. Almost every weekend, Bethanne organized a number of birthday parties for youngsters, and she paid both Annie and Amanda to help. At first Amanda had tagged along…just because. She soon discovered it was a lot of fun; she liked helping kids celebrate their birthdays in a creative way. Annie's mother was really good at this. The money was a bonus, and Amanda had used it to save up for her prom dress.

" Those kids exposed you to all their germs," her mother snapped. " Those birthday parties are breeding grounds for—"

"I didn't get cancer at a birthday party."

Amanda could see it already. Her mother was going to smother her. In a misguided effort to protect her from harm, Joan would make everything worse. It'd been bad enough when Amanda was eight and nine. She couldn't even imagine what her mother would be like now. Amanda figured she'd be lucky to step inside a movie theater again—the germs floating around in places like that. And if her mother had anything to say about it, she'd be banned from shopping, too. How ridiculous was that! Amanda sighed heavily. Even if she survived, she'd be doomed to her mother's heavy-handed protection for the rest of her life.

And that remark about the birthday parties! It was as though her mother would feel better if she had someone or something to blame. Amanda didn't understand why. It wouldn't make the cancer magically disappear. And it didn't benefit anyone, except maybe her mom. That kind of thinking would drive Amanda crazy.

Neither spoke on the ride home. The minute she got out of the car, Amanda went straight to her room and shut the door. Once inside the relative privacy of her bedroom, she placed headphones over her ears and immersed herself in music.

Someone—obviously her mother—knocked loudly on her door, but Amanda ignored it. She didn't know if Joan came in to check on her, because she kept her eyes closed.

For whatever reason, the cancer was back and Amanda would be the one dealing with it. This wasn't a trig problem she could pass off to Lance in study hall to solve for her. Her parents couldn't help her, either. She was alone, and that was the most frightening thing of all.

Ten minutes later, the phone rang. Even with the music turned up full blast, Amanda could hear it. She ignored that, too. When her mother came into her room, Amanda reluctantly removed the headphones. "What?" she demanded.

Her mother's eyes filled with tears. "That was Annie."


" I don't want to talk right now." She was seventeen and she was dying and if she didn't want to answer the phone she shouldn't have to.

"I called your father.. "

Amanda closed her eyes again. She didn't want to hear it. "Mom, please, give me a few minutes by myself. Just a few minutes." She didn't know why her mother was doing this. A little time alone shouldn't be that much to ask.

"I can't," her mother sobbed. Joan sank onto the edge of the bed, covered her face with both hands and began to cry.

Amanda bit her lower lip and knelt on the carpet at her mother's feet. After a moment she laid her head in her mother's lap. It occurred to her then that this diagnosis wasn't only about her. Her cancer affected everyone in her life.

Slowly Amanda's arms went around her mother's waist and she straightened. Her mother clung to her, burying her face in Amanda's shoulder, still sobbing.

Surprisingly, Amanda shed no tears. The emotion was there, just beneath the surface, pounding, throbbing, pulsing. What shocked Amanda, what threw her completely off guard, was her mother's reaction. This was the second time she'd faced cancer, the second time for her and her parents. You'd think her mom would know how to cope. Or maybe it was the exact opposite; maybe knowing what to expect made it worse.

"I'm going to be fine," Amanda cooed softly.

"I know."

Amanda had been too young the first time to remember how her mother and father had dealt with everything. Certain memories were strong: the pain, throwing up, losing her hair—and her mother at her side. Other memories had faded. The one constant had been her mother's devotion. She'd desperately needed it then and Amanda knew she'd need it now.

"I'm…sorry," her mother whispered. "I didn't mean to do this. You need me—but I'm so frightened. I can't bear to see you go through this again."

Amanda gently kissed the top of her mother's head. " It's all right, Mom. It's all right."

"I should be the strong one."

"You are." In the months to come, Amanda would need to lean on her mother's strength. Her mother would be her advocate, her nurse, her coach and her friend.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2012

    Highly Recommended!!

    Great book, beautifully written stories!! All did a great job!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite writers. I love her style

    Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite writers. I love her style of writing, and how she makes the characters come alive. Amanda was one that was brave and even though she was disheartened at some things that happened to her she always had one friend that was there through thick and thin.

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  • Posted March 29, 2012


    I just love all of the stories. I just love Debbie MaCombers books. just can't put them down.

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