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Monthly Archives: May 2020

The corona virus is with us, all around the world. I often use news headlines or stories I find buried in the news in the plot or development of my stories. Whatever genre you write, have you used the corona virus in your story?

The corona virus has been with us for at least three months. The main ways to protect yourself and others is to wear a mask and practice social distancing, washing your hands, and staying at least six feet apart.   Is there a way to use the situations that we see these situations in our city, country, or area as part of a plot in our novels?

I write romantic suspense and I don’t see how I could use it in a romance. Romance is about relationships, developing a relationship, touching, holding hands, or kissing. How do you do this if you stay six feet apart and wear a mask? I find wearing a mask covers the face so you can’t even see a smile. I suppose you could use it in an online relationship. If you write romance, sweet romance, YA romance, contemporary romance or any other genre, are you writing a book that uses the corona virus in your story? If you are, how are you incorporating it into a romance in this New Normal? Or how could you incorporate it into a romance?

As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how this might be affecting relationships in today’s New Normal. Hmm.

I could use the virus in the suspense writing part of a book. The villain could carry the virus, or he could be in contact with the virus. He could spread it to many people. It might even be part of his plot to harm people.   Is anyone using it in mystery or suspense? What about other genres?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about writing in your genre with, or about, the Covid 19 virus and the New Normal.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, having been observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. It honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2020 occurs on Monday, May 25.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Pre-Corona Virus many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades, going to beaches and summer cottages. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

In the middle of the corona virus the weekend now varies from state to state. Social distancing is required, group sizes vary from ten people up to maybe fifty. (I don’t know each state’s requirements). People are heading to the beaches but there are now rules to follow. Large groups and concerts are all canceled.   

Historically the Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. And some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemoration was organized by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Happy Memorial Day!

I know, I’m late celebrating our Canadian Victoria Day. Blame it on last brain from the Covid 19.

Victoria Day is a federal Canadian public holiday. It’s celebrated on the last Monday before May 25th , in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. It’s always one week before the American Memorial Day. The holiday has been observed in Canada since at least 1845, originally falling on the sovereign’s actual birthday. It continuous to be celebrated in various fashions across the country on the fixed date. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, parliament made her birthday an annual holiday.

The date is also, simultaneously, that on which the current reigning monarch celebrates their birthday. It is Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday, although her actual birthday is April 21st . The weekend is sometimes informally considered as marking the beginning of summer season in Canada.

The holiday has always been a distinctly Canadian observance and is celebrated as the first big camping weekend, opening up of summer cottages, summer festivals in parks and almost always big fire works displays. All this before the corona virus pandemic. 

This year, because of the corona virus, everything was cancelled. Camping at home was encouraged. It included putting up tents in the back yard and parking the RV’s in the driveway. All gatherings and celebrations were cancelled, including all the fireworks display. It was the New Normal.

Hope all Canadians still had a Happy Holiday Weekend.

And tomorrow I’ll cover the American Memorial Day.

Welcome to our group blog. This May our Group Blog is on editing. All books go through multiple edits. What have you learned are your problems, and what irks you about editing?

We do go through many edits. The first few are our own edits before we send anything off. After the first draft we edit for sentence structure, spelling, grammar, character development, interior and exterior conflict, plot, red herrings and probably a lot more. Then we edit again. Then off to our editors, revisions and back for more editing. I think all of us want the best polished novel possible for our readers.

What are my problems? Ah, so many challenges. I tend to use passive voices – was – a lot. I need to use words that are more active and vivid.  As well I use crutch words like smiled, glared, stared, and words like ‘just’ and ‘that’. I also have some punctuation issues, like where to put the comma.

Editing takes time and it’s technical and not creative. working with your muse, but it’s a necessary evil for a well-written story.

I think what irks me about editing is that no matter how many edits you do, or how many people edit it or look at it, when you read the final published copy – there’s always an error – which someone immediately points out. Sigh…

I’m looking forward to seeing what our other authors have to say about editing and what irks them.

Skye Taylor

Diane Bator

Dr. Bob Rich

Connie Vines

Anne Stenhouse

Margaret Fieland

A.J. Maguire

Victoria Chatham

Judith Copek

Kayelle Allen writes space opera with larger than life, unforgettable characters. Come walk in her worlds and meet her misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, immortal gamers, and warriors who purr.

Interview with Luc Saint-Cyr

Beverley: What’s your name?

Luc: That depends. I’m immortal. I’ve had hundreds. For the sake of the story Kayelle Allen is telling now, let’s agree it’s Luc Saint-Cyr. But in the story, my king refers to me as Cyken, and a couple other older names are mentioned, plus my original name at creation was Cyr… so you see why I say “It depends.”

Beverley: Where did you grow up?

Luc: I was created fully grown rather than born; on Earth in the year 2501. My first twenty years were spent traveling in the Terran Crescent, a group of thirteen planets. I don’t consider Earth my home, but technically, it is.

Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?

Luc: The current Earth year is 15,111, or 4648 Tradestandard in the Tarthian Empire, far in your future.

Beverley: What’s your story/back story?

Luc: How long do you have? I’m twelve thousand something. Stopped giving exact dates a few millennia ago. I’m known among humans as the Harbinger, which is my Thieves’ Guild name. I’m also known as Shadow, the right hand of the king, and in this story, I’m living my first life free from his influence. Which is like saying I’m staying dry while walking through a hurricane. Not happening. But I’m trying.

Beverley:   Why would someone come up with a story about you?

Luc: Kayelle loves Pietas, my king, and Senthys, who is a toddler in this story, and I come along with the package. She tells the boy’s story through my eyes, and gives insight into Pietas also. Well, a bit of my story too. But the boy is far more interesting and lovable.

Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?

Luc: To figure out how to keep my so-called freedom while not disappointing or undermining my king, while also figuring out how to best protect Senthys, who is a brilliant young boy. The lad shows amazing talent and I want him to have the best. At the same time, I’ve discovered that the Thieves’ Guild, which I have led in the past, is in danger of crumbling into ruin. There are other disasters as well. My life is never easy. Not complaining, mind you, but it would be nice if Kayelle gave me a break now and then.

Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?

Luc: What am I not? My king, with whom I had a torrid relationship for centuries has promised me this life as a free man, not serving him directly. After thousands of years of service, I deserve one, don’t I? Although he and I have not been a “couple” for too many centuries to count, Pietas has never given up on the idea that I’ll come back to him. I’m convinced he’s orchestrated the various disasters in this story just to win me back. The man does not understand the words “done, over you, or not happening.” What makes it even worse is that although I have solid reasons for not being with him, I still love him.

Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?

Luc: A plan? Can you hear me laughing? I swear, making a plan around Pietas is like building a house with a deck of cards in a windstorm. I’m trying. But it seems there is someone outside our circle of influence who is undermining everything I do. It’s quite vexing. That last sentence sounded exactly like Pietas.

Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Luc: I always try to do the right thing, and I’m so loyal to Pietas that I earned the name Shadow. I stick that close to his side. A less flattering name for me is the King’s Dog. This life, being on my own, is exciting — and at the same time — terrifying. But overall, my strongest goal is to serve the mission and serve the king.

Interview with Lord Pietas

Beverley: What’s your name?

Pietas Pietas. I’ve used other names in other lives, but “Pietas” is who I am at heart. It’s one of the Greek virtues. I am nothing like what it represents, and I like it that way.

Beverley: Where did you grow up?

Pietas On Earth, in a tiny town in Wales called Nevern. It’s a real place in your world. You can look it up.

Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?

Pietas In my people’s time period, it’s the Peril year 1944, the Earth year 15,111, and 4648 Tradestandard. Your far, far future.

Beverley: What’s your story/back story?

Pietas I was born as a twin. I have a sister minutes younger. I adore her but every single time we get together we are at each other’s throats. Figuratively. So far. I worked my way up the ranks in my people’s army, became a leader, was elected Chancellor (king), was exiled due to a wretched betrayal, and in exile, learned that humans were not the enemy I perceived them to be. Now, I’m trying to make up for the carnage I inflicted when I was a soldier, but having an immortal waltz in and tell humans what to do simply doesn’t work. I’ve tried that. So instead, my followers and I protect and guide in secret. I’m sorry, what was your original question? I tend to ramble.

Beverley: Why would someone come up with a story about you?

Pietas What a silly question. I’m the king. I’m quite fascinating as a person. Ask any of my followers. They’ll tell you. But please keep in mind that you should discount the word “narcissist” — my followers use it to try keeping me humble. Poor deluded souls. As if that wasn’t my nature already.

Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?

Pietas To win Cyken back (you probably think of him as Luc), and to keep a type of advanced space travel out of the hands of an enemy, while keeping that specific knowledge away from Cyken. If he knew the truth, he would balk. I’ve had to resort to trickery with him countless times. Yes, he is loyal to a fault, and he loves me, but he’s so headstrong that I must constantly work to… let’s not say “control” him. Let’s say I try to do what’s best for him, because he doesn’t always recognize what that is. But I do.

Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?

Pietas What am I not? Cyken, an unseen enemy, my sister, Cyken… and did I say Cyken?

Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?

Pietas My darling, if I revealed that here, it would not serve me well. I shall keep that to myself.

Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Pietas Yes. I’m Kayelle’s favorite. You should see her website! Pictures of me are all over it. Well, actually, they are pictures of Nik Nitsvetov dressed as me, but the likeness is uncanny. Looking at him is like looking into a mirror. He even captures what Cyken so annoyingly calls my “broody look.” Honestly, why Cyken fascinates me I cannot fathom. But that’s how love is. You love someone despite their difficulties and foibles. I’m Welsh by birth. We understand the concept hiraeth . It means longing for something you’ve never had, never will have, but did have, and an ache for what might have been. It’s a difficult word to define. It comes upon you like a shroud, or a cloak. I have hiraeth on me for Cyken. I will never be free of him. Which is probably the most important thing you can know about me.

Blurb for A Stolen Heart

Sci-Fi with romantic elements and an adorable little hero.

When he rescues a half-human orphan, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to topple the powerful Thieves’ Guild he once led.

Multiple layers of conspiracy unfold, reaching all the way to Luc’s immortal ex–the king. Behind each solved mystery looms an unseen foe, undoing the good Luc accomplishes. For the sake of this child, Luc must postpone his own freedom and master his desire for revenge or he will violate an ancient vow. Worse, he’ll put the toddler at risk.

At war with his compassion for the vulnerable child, loyalty to the king, duty to the Guild, and the bright lure of freedom he’s coveted for centuries, Luc seeks the right path. Will he choose liberty and unparalleled success, or restore the Thieves’ Guild to its former glory while overseeing the child’s training?

A hard choice for any man. For an immortal whose inner monster can destroy on sight? Impossible.

A pirate with a monstrous past can never be trusted with an innocent child. Luc must ensure the child is protected, safe, nowhere near danger. Nowhere near him. Even if this little boy has already stolen his heart…

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Has so much emphasis been placed by readers and writers’ groups, publishers, reviewers, etc. on authors to have a spectacular opening page/chapters that the rest of the story gets left behind? What are your thoughts?

Ever since I can remember writers have been told the opening needs to grab the reader. It might be the opening line or maybe the first few pages, but you need to get the reader interested and hold that interest for the first few pages, so they’ll keep reading. It should be where there is a life changing event for the hero or heroine and needs to hold the readers interest, long enough so they fall in love with your hero or heroine, or they need to see how the plot plays out or maybe they want to read and learn a little more about the setting. This could be a death, a murder, an arrest, some inheriting a B&B, or maybe forced to meet an old lover. Do you have a favorite inciting incident as either a writer or reader?

Different writers use different techniques to grab their readers but if they can’t do it, chances are their book won’t be read, or maybe won’t even be bought. I’ve watched people in bookstores (before the corona virus hit).  Different readers check out books in different ways. For some it’s the cover. For others it’s the back-cover blurb, but others open the book and start reading those first few pages. If it doesn’t grab them the book goes back on the rack.

How important do you think first lines and first pages are? Do they influence you? I’ve judged a lot of contests and many of those books only got read because I had to judge the whole book. If it had been a book I was reading by choice, I would have stopped after a few pages.

Here are a couple of first lines. What do you think, do you want to read the book?

Heart thundering with exertion, fifteen-year old Jane Killlian treaded water. Sunlight reflected off the lake’s glassy surface, blindingly bright. “See Jane Die” by Erica Spindler

The man behind the cluttered desk looked like the devil and Neil Dysart figured that was par for her course since she’d been going to hell for a year and a half anyway. “Fast Women” by Jennie Crusie

You’ve got to stop this.”

Her husband’s voice reached her slowly, as if from a great distance, even though she knew he was standing at the doorway to her daughter’s room. “Stalked” by Elizabeth Heiter

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

To Heal a Heart – Book 2, Masonville series

(Pre-order until June 12, 2020)

Blurb for To Heal a Heart:

Garrett Saunders’ world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett’s rescue horse and he’ll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she’s hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett’s love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?

Excerpt for To Heal a Heart:

He pushed himself to his feet, disconcerted by his unsteadiness. He made a few halting steps toward the gate as Blair ran into the yard.

“I forgot my sweater,” she said, grabbing the garment from the back of a chair and slipping it on. “It’s cooler than I thought. Are you sure you don’t want to watch the fireworks with us?”

“No, I—”

His words were cut off by a loud explosion, and his only thought was that he had to protect Blair. He grabbed her and threw her to the ground, covering her body with his. He was under attack. Why was Blair in Afghanistan? How could he keep her safe?

Through the chaos and noise he heard her muffled voice beneath him. “Garrett, you’re crushing me.”

He shifted his weight slightly. “Shh. I’m sorry. You have to stay down and quiet. I can’t let them hurt you.”

She stopped struggling. “Who’s going to hurt me?”

“Can’t you hear the mortar fire? I have to protect you.”

Her hand rubbed his back in gentle circles. “It’s all right, Garrett. It’s only fireworks. It can’t hurt us. We’re safe here.”

He lifted his head and looked around. He was in Cole and Lauren’s back yard in Masonville. There were no bombs, no shelling, no Taliban. He looked down into Blair’s face, into the pity in her eyes. He rolled off her, disgusted with himself.

Disgusted and scared. He was losing his mind.

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I just finished self-editing my book before I sent it off to an editor. And, of course, as soon as I emailed it off, I’m thinking I should have gone through and edited it one more time using Stacy Juba’s tips.

What about you? Do you self-edit? Do you need help with self-editing? Stacy Juba is an author and an editor. She has a helpful website and a free editing class at Check it out.

She’s also written a book on self-editing, Book Editing Blueprint: The simple path to editing and transforming your novel – one step at a time.

Here are some of her tips to follow.

1. Search for these overused words: look, eyes, walk, stand, stood, gaze. For each use, evaluate whether you want to cut it, change it, or keep it.

2. Check for clichés, like eyes as big as saucers or hit like a ton of bricks and try to make a twist on them.

3. Cut down on -ly adverbs such as quickly, quietly, slowly, completely, angrily.

4. Are you telling an emotion rather than showing it?

5. Check for vague words: some, that, very, as, just. Cut down on them.

6. Remove excess prepositions. (words like above, at, by, down, for, in, inside, of, to, up, with.)

7. Look for too many sentences in a row starting with The, A, or An and vary the sentence structure

8. Run spell checks to clean up basic typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors.

These come from Featuring the online course: Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable Line Editing Made Simple Cheat Sheet.

From a writer’s point of view we should be thanking the corona virus. We are supposed to stay-at-home or shelter-at-home. How awesome is that?       We’ll have time to write. Well, some of us maybe.

If you have children who are not in school, and/or daycare, you’re busy doing home schooling and planning activities to keep your children occupied. After a day of this I’m sure by the evening and after they’re in bed, you’re exhausted. You might try writing 100 words a day. It’s about a paragraph and over a period of time you can get a lot written. If you need accountability to do this, there is a – 100 words for 100 days.

Or maybe you have your husband and other family members, older children or parents, also staying at home with you. There’s no place for you to write or a private spot where you can concentrate. A suggestion for you might be the bathroom – lock the door and write your novel by hand. It stimulates a different section of the brain and might work. Then when you have access to a computer you can type your work and edit at the same time.

Another option if you do have a space to write and can fit it in, you might find you’re not motivated to write. You stare at the computer. You reread what you have written so far. You doodle about where the story might go. You stare into space as you try to get inside your characters head, but they’re not cooperating. It’s possible you might even be a little depressed by what’s going on in the world and the isolation. Reach out to friends by phone or online. Again, maybe find a way to be accountable for writing even 100 words a day.

How are you coping? Any suggestions for struggling writers who aren’t getting the words down as they would like.

May?? Not sure we will have a lot going on this month. Canada has Victoria Day Weekend and the US has Memorial Day. In Canada all celebrations have been cancelled because the Corona Virus is still with us. In Canada, as of today, we have 53,236 cases of the Covid virus and 3,184 deaths. And it doesn’t look like we’ve peaked. We’re doing still on an upward curve.


We’re still on lock down and stay-at-home. It’s an interesting time. Many parts of the world have had varying degrees of infection and they have handled them in different ways. Some are slowly starting to open up. We’ll see how it works. I have no comment on what appears to work better. Before we get a treatment and hopefully a vaccine. I do believe that the one thing that works is social/physical distancing, staying at least six feet apart. The second thing is hand washing, frequently and for at least twenty seconds. Avoid crowds. Face covering in close distances. All these things appear to help slow the infection, flatten the curve and hopefully reduce the number of deaths.



I’m doing stay-at-home. I shop once a week, wear gloves and a mask and stay at least six feet from anyone. Am I going stir crazy? Oh, yeah. The weather is finally warming up so I can spend a little time outside in the yard – but then we have the wind. Like many writers I have used the time to write. I was challenged to do 100 words a day for April. I accepted the challenge and wrote at least 100 words every day and reported in, to my challenger. It helped and I did write. I finished editing Death Southern Style.


I had to find a new editor, but the book is now at an editor. And I’m hoping to get it back, do the revisions, and get it to my formatter before the end of the month. I make get it up for sale yet. And with my 100 words a day I also pulled out The Foundation Lydia’s Story, the second in the series, and started back writing that book. I’ve heard many writers are getting lots of writing done with stay-at-home. That’s one good thing related to the virus. There should be lots of new books out there to read while staying-at-home.


There are also a couple of other positive thins with the virus. There is limited transportation and the air around the world is cleaner than it has been for a long time. Also, the SPCA’s and other pet control centers are empty. All the animals have been adopted. So, hold that thought, and let’s hope May is a good month for all, including writers.




I’m hoping Death Southern Style will be available for sale by June. Once I get a pre-order date, I’ll start to promote it. Until then I’m taking a break. Besides, with stay-at home I tend to be a little brain dead at time and I was too late to get in on a couple of promotions.


Since I’m working On Lydia’s story, here’s an excerpt (draft).


Hidden in the shadows they watched the guards change. The heavy Peruvian undergrowth prevented any sun shining through but keep the humidity locked in, giving the air a sauna-like feel.

"Ready?" Lydia whispered.

Sara nodded, and edged toward the path. She got the assignment because she spoke fluent Spanish. With her dyed black and make up darkening her skin she looked Peruvian. Mac had helped her dye her hair and use the skin darkener. He really had come a long way. With a quick glance at her team she pulled a scarf over her head and sauntered towards the prison gate.

Maggie beside her. She dropped into the undergrowth when they approached the guard.

The guard stopped Sara.

"I'm working in the kitchen today. Maria is sick."

He nodded and waved another guard to escort her.

"Scuse." Sara bumped into him as she passed, pocketing his gate key.

Maggie crawled close in the underbrush. Sara dropped the key. Maggie’s hand shot out and grabbed it. Sara proceeded into the prison.

In the kitchen Sara removed her scarf and pulled on an apron. The head cook shouted at her in Spanish to make the soup.

Sara swallowed a smile. The soup would be perfect. She added bouillon and water. She glanced around the room, pulled out a slim container from her pocket and dumped a large portion of the powder into the cauldron. She hummed a melody from her childhood and continued to stir the soup. This had been easier than they expected, but would the rest of the plan work as smoothly?

When she finished the soup Sara checked the coffee. She added more water and a generous dump of powder.

A few hours later, after finishing the menu for dinner Sara left the prison. Maggie put her hand out from behind a bush near the gate and returned the key to Sara.

The gate guard stared at Sara. She smiled at the guard, ran her fingers up his chest ss she returned his key. Then, smiling, she swaggered down the trail, hips undulating, as she headed toward town.  Around the corner she slipped off the trail into the darkness of the jungle where her team waited.

"They should sleep well." Sara grinned as they crept through the underbrush to the temporary camp they had set up.

Several hours later, in the pitch black of night, the four women made their way back to the prison gate. Dressed in fatigues and black face the women waited outside the prison gate for the change of guards.

Lydia nodded and they crept forward to the gate. Inside a guard slumped to one side, leaning against the pillar, snoring loudly.

Maggie pulled out the duplicate key they had made and opened the gate just enough for the women to slip inside.

Once in the courtyard Maggie grabbed the sleeping guard's keys. Sara led the way through the prison, at a fork in the path she turned away from the kitchen and toward the cells. In the cells they searched for Dr. Miguay. A few inmates woke, shouting to be released. Most slept soundly.

Dr. Miguay had a cell to herself near the end. Opening the cell door, Sara opened the cell door.  The doctor slept soundly.  "Damn, she must have eaten the soup. Quick, Maggie, the antidote."

Maggie dug into her pack and handed Sara a syringe. Sara shot it into the doctor's upper arm and waited.

She continued to sleep on her cot for several more minutes. Finally her eyes flickered open. She stared up at the four women.

Speaking in Spanish Sara said, "We're here to rescue you. We're Americans. We're taking you to the United States."