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FRENZIED, Thriller - Pat McCaw

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 Emily blames her father for her mom’s death, but when he’s mauled by a bear in the remote Canadian wilderness, she must forgive the past and connect with her despised stepsister, Skylar, or they’ll never survive.

16-year-old Emily usually looks forward to a week at Loon Lake for her yearly father-daughter fly-in fishing trip – but not this year. She’s stuck in the remote Canadian wilderness with her 19-year-old diva stepsister, Skylar, and with the father she blames for her mom’s death. 

A bear breaks into the cabin and mauls their dad to the brink of death. Emily and Skylar wound the bear and escape, but their entire food supply is decimated. They find a dusty satellite phone and send out a message before it stops working, but their rescue plane crashes into the forest before their eyes. Now, they’re stranded with no contact to the outside world. 

Out of desperation, Emily hikes through dense forest to the crashed plane hoping to find survivors, while Skylar remains at the cabin to keep their dad alive. Emily retrieves a broken radio and returns to the cabin just as the wounded bear returns for its revenge. Emily and Skylar must fight together and forgive past secrets, or they will never survive. 

Comparables:    FRENZIED is a YA novel complete at 72,500 words. It is a modern-day HATCHET with girl power and family drama. It will appeal to fans of I AM STILL ALIVE by Kate Alice Marshall and THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST by Jessi Kirby, as well as to fans of the television series THE WILDS on Amazon.

Sample pages:



Chapter 1


“Nature in her green tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.” – John Muir

An entire week without electricity, running water, or Wi-Fi, on a private lake packed with walleye . . .


Dad and I travel to the same cabin, in middle-of-nowhere Canada, every year. We fish in the rain until our fingers grow numb and cook fresh filets over an open fire. For most of my sixteen years, it’s been our special trip.

Not anymore.

As our plane gets closer to Loon Lake, the carpet of trees hasn’t changed, but life sure has. It’s hard to spend a week with the man I used to idolize when now my stomach turns whenever he’s around.

            Dad presses his nose to the airplane window and scans the landscape. 

My breath quickens. Normally, I’d be babbling about my excitement to go on hikes, eat shore lunch, search for wild asparagus, and fish until dark, but I turn toward the window.


Dad nudges Skylar hoping that his enthusiasm will rub off. “What do you think?” 

            Skylar, my new stepsister, grips her Gucci purse with white knuckles and dry heaves over her glossed lips. Our small four-passenger plane bounces through the clouds, but the princess is too pretty to puke. She chokes it down. “I’m going to toss my scone if we keep getting jerked around like this!” 

She prances around like her mother. At least she’s not here – one diva is enough.

Ignoring them, I yell over the plane’s engine. “Hey Chuck, how’s fishing been at the lake?” 

Chuck lowers his radio. “You’re the first ones up this season, Emily. I’ll need your fishing report at the end of the week.” He smirks. “Ice out was only two weeks ago, so they may be slow to bite, but I know you’ll find ‘em.” He holds his hands wide. “You still hold the record for biggest walleye caught on Loon Lake. A beauty! You should see the faces of the other fishermen when I tell them you’re a girl.” 

I can’t help but grin. Yeah, I can out-fish any guy. Any day. Chuck’s awesome – even if he’s a Cardinals fan. (Cubs rule). He reminds me of a cowboy who’s been riding the range in the blazing heat for too long, but Chuck’s hardened edges come from whiskey. He flies us to our cabin every year. He manages the property at Loon Lake for the Westons, the old couple who owns it. Dad and I won’t consider other fly-in fishing trips. Who needs a lodge with a flushing toilet? We prefer Loon Lake. It’s tradition. 

            “Even if the fishing’s slow, we’ll find ‘em.” Dad and I know every fishing hole. We’ve never had a bad year of fishing on Loon Lake. “We eat fish every day, so they’d better be biting. Otherwise, that’s a lot of peanut butter and jelly!”

            “What did you just say?” Skylar bolts upright in her seat. “We’re eating fish, like, every day?” She covers her mouth with fake fingernails and practically stabs her nose. “I can’t stand fish.”

            Good thing Dad brought her on a fishing trip. I can’t even look at him. I wonder if he realizes that I haven’t spoken to him since we left Iowa this morning.



I earned my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University, and I practice family medicine in Iowa. I am an active member of SCBWI, and I teach classes to educators through the Area Education Agency on using picture books in a classroom and fun ways to teach creative writing to youngsters. I've written online blog content for GILI sports about paddle boarding. I won a short story contest in January 2020 for Our Iowa magazine, and I was a top 20 finalist in a Writer’s Digest short story contest.

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