Falling for Fortune


Initially, I was going to blog about my new book, FALLING FOR FORTUNE.  I really love this story. It’s book five in the current Fortunes of Texas series.  It features Christopher Fortune Jones, a tortured hero who is suffering an identity crisis, and Kinsley Aaron, a strong  level-headed heroine, who helps him find himself.

But then something funny happened on the way to the blog. My daughter and I found ourselves cast as the strong, level-headed heroines of our own story — or at least we were trying to be. Please let me tell you about it.

We moved College Girl home from school for the summer on Monday. The Norwegian drove the U-Haul. College Girl and I drove her car home. The entire day, everything went like clockwork. She had done a great job getting mostly packed. What wasn’t packed was nicely organized. In no time at all we were ready to head for home. The only thing was she had conveniently forgotten to fill up the car with gas. Imagine that. 😉

She and I stopped at the gas station before we got on the highway. Since she is a princess, I paid for and pumped the fuel.  Of course. Really, I didn’t mind because she’s a pretty good kid and I was so glad to see her. We had so much catching up to do.  She rolled down the window to talk to me as I gassed up the car. Mid-conversation, she shrieked and  jumped up on her seat, yanked off her flip flop and started pounding the passenger side floor.  

                “What are you doing?” I asked.

                “A bug! A bug! A bug! A great big palmetto bug just flew in here!”

                “Oh. Ew. Really??”

Who knows what a palmetto bug is? Those of you who do probably also said, “Oh. Ew. Really??”   

For those of you who don’t know…imagine the biggest cockroach you’ve ever seen. Now put wings on it and give it fearless flying superpowers. They fly at anything. I think they’re attracted to screaming and flailing arms. Palmetto bug

**Note: I just Googled palmetto bug and discovered that the AVERAGE size is around 1.6 inches long. College Girl swore the one that flew at her was gargantuan. That’s what they look like. And don’t forget they fly. —>

She climbed out of the car.

                “Did you get it?” I asked.


                “No? How could you miss? I thought it was gargantuan?”

                “It WAS. And it climbed up behind the glove compartment.”

                “Oh. Ew. Really?”

                “I think so,” she said. “Because I don’t know where it went.”

                Oh. Great.

I climbed onto the front passenger seat, armed with her flip flop and a pizza special door hanger. With my butt in the air, I slapped and poked around until I was sure  that the bug  wasn’t in the car. Five or ten minutes later (how can you measure time at a moment like this?) I realized that the bug probably wasn’t coming out – maybe it crawled out into the engine – and  guy at the pump next to us was watching us intently.

And he was laughing.

                “Need some help?” he asked.

Clearly, he found our predicament amusing. The nerve.

                “No, I think we’re good,” I said.

College Girl suggested we start the car to see if the sound and heat of the engine would drive it out. That’s when I remembered the time I saw a gecko in my car and recalled how it disappeared, never to be seen again. That was years ago and I never found the lizard – dead or alive.

                “I’ll bet the bug got out,” I said.  “Those nasty things can squeeze through a tiny crack. Besides, we can’t spend the night here at the gas station. Don’t you think we should go?”

So, we set off, both acutely aware of the fugitive flying roach.

                “So, do you think we should make a plan just in case the bug comes out?” College Girl asked. “Just in case it flies out when we’re on the interstate. So that we don’t freak out and have a wreck?”

                Oh, dear God.

                “Not a bad idea,” I said, suddenly having visions of us traveling on the crowded  highway, and the bug either flying at me as I drove, or making its way over to the driver’s side, dropping onto my ankle and crawling up my pants leg.

Are you mentally doing the “icked-out dance of repulsion” as you read this?

I reminded myself over and over again that I could NOT – under any circumstance – do that dance. Even if the bug flew at me and landed on my nose as I drove. If I freaked out, it could cause a deadly crash. That thought instantly sobered me. Do any of you remember the blog I posted a year ago about our headlights going out on the way home from one of College Girl’s school concerts? This is the same scary highway.

So, we spent the next bit of time devising “the bug evacuation plan.”

If the bug appeared, we would both remain CALM. College Girl would CALMLY say the word, “Bug.”  There would be no screaming. No swatting. No swerving.  And definitely no impromptu “icked-out dances of repulsion.” She would CALMLY roll down the windows (so that it could fly out if it was so inclined). I would CALMLY keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road and SLOWLY guide the car over to the shoulder.  Then I would remain CALM and NOT jump out into the path of an oncoming car as I hopped into the “icked-out dances of repulsion.” I would CALMLY let myself out, being mindful of oncoming cars, and get well into the grass, then I was free to break into the dance.

We both laughed and acknowledged that if we had such a plan in place that the bug, who was probably winging its way around the gas station back in her college town, would never emerge. Hahaha! 



About an hour into our trip, College Girl gasped. In her quiet, CALM hysteria, she might’ve even uttered a word that is not normally in her vocabulary. All this mama heard was a composed, “Bug.”

Keeping my eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel,  I said, “Oh! Ew. Really?”

She did not roll down the windows. Instead, she started beating the ever living daylights out of the passenger side floor mat.

                “Got it,” she said.

                “Really?” I hadn’t even had a chance to pull off onto the side of the road. 


                “Good job,” I said.

We agreed that we would stop at the next exit, which happened to have a Dunkin Donuts, and dispose of the evidence and then reward ourselves for remaining so calm in the face of danger.

I would like to celebrate our level-headed victory with you. Tell me if you’ve ever had a situation where you remained calm even though it would’ve been very easy to freak out. What did you do? Or what would you have done if you’d been in our car? Would you have stayed in the college town until the bug emerged (keeping in mind that it might not have crawled out as fast as it had flown in) or would you have gotten on the highway? Five people who post on this blog will each receive a copy of my new book, FALLING FOR FORTUNE.





22 thoughts on “Falling For Fortune or How To Be The Heroine of Your Own Story

  1. Nancy, hugs to you and College Girl.

    I have to tell you as soon as I saw the word palmetto my back went up. I have big hair, really big hair and when I’m home in Florida land of the palmetto the humidity whips my hair into a big sort of helmet or net around my head. One of those gross bugs flew into my hair one night at my parents’ house. I freaked out and my mom and dad instead of helping me as I as dancing around shaking my head sat there laughing. So not cool. Happy to report the bug was taken care of quickly.

    I really admire you and College Girl’s calm plan and her decisive actions!

  2. Laurie G says:

    Oh so funny! Yes I have seen palmetto bugs as I normally live in FL most of the year. We also get lizards. One year we even had a frog. Luckily so far no snakes.

    In Wisconsin, we did some remodeling and added a master bathroom. One evening after dinner shortly after the construction was completed, I was seated at the computer which is set up on a counter in our kitchen. Occasionally the light would dim, I wasn’t paying too much attention. Next thing I knew a bat flew over my head. It was circling around our first floor going through the LR, DR and kitchen. Every time it flew through the kitchen it would flutter by the kitchen light over the sink dimming the light. I screamed. I wasn’t sure what to do, hide, grab a broom… Finally I thought open the front door. SUCCESS! It flew out after a couple of rounds through the downstairs.

  3. Mia Marlowe Mia Marlowe says:

    I’ve had a horror of creepy crawlies since a weaselly little boy in my 5th grade class tossed small wad of black yarn into my hair and yelled, “Cricket!” Talk about “Icked out dance!” It’s a wonder I’m not bald.

    We’re getting ready to move from our Boston condo, where I have never seen a single bug to the Missouri Ozarks, AKA “Tick Central.” We’ll have June bugs and mosquitoes and I’m sure there are roaches and termites galore. But as long as they stay outside, we’ll get along fine. If they breach the perimeter and show their pointy little heads in my house, they’re done for. If it has more than 4 legs, it deserves to die. Not terribly zen of me, there it is.

  4. Sara leitch says:

    I totally can relate Nancy! As a passionate hater of creepy crawlies I remember an incident driving home with my Grandmother from school. Seated in the front I noted something crawling up the passenger door, the biggest huntsman spider I had ever seen was making it’s way toward me. Of course I started screaming, not cool and calm at all, nan had to pull over to get rid of said spider before we could get home!

  5. Melissa Terry says:

    I do not like bugs either. My moment of trying to stay calm while freaking happened a few years ago. I was driving down the road when a wasp came buzzing from my floorboard. All I could think was it is going to sting me. I calmly rolled the window down and prayed the thing would fly on out. It flew around my head and close to my face a few times before finally making an exit. Needless to say my heart just about beat out of my chest.

  6. Kathleen Kathleen says:

    Oh, dear heaven, Nancy! You and College Girl are warrior women! Palmetto bugs are among the most horrible creatures ever created. As I read your hilarious, wonderfully told story, I had only one question: Didn’t that exit where you filled your gas tank have any nearby car dealers? For a coward like me, buying a new car would have been the only possible solution.

  7. Laney4 says:

    Alas, I cannot think of a story at the moment. I’m SURE there have been some through my vast 55 years, though, LOL!
    I truly am enjoying reading about everyone’s misfortune. Aren’t I mean??? LOL….

  8. Michelle Major says:

    Hi Nancy – You and College Girl are so brave. I’m glad the bug reappeared in the back seat so she could deal with it! I have a hard time staying calm when I’m freaked out so you two are impressive. I’m especially afraid of mice. We had one get into the house several years ago through a vent line and my mom helpfully explained that if you see one, there’s definitely more. My daughter and I went to the humane society that night and adopted a cat. So worth it!

  9. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    My skin is crawling just imagining that scenario. Bugs are never gone! I’ve had to kill a few bugs without scaring my daughter. I don’t want her freaking out or scared of insects, so i swallow my fear and calmly squish them.

  10. KateS says:

    What ever made me take biology when I knew there was a bug collection involved…. ick ick ick ick

  11. catslady says:

    So glad it didn’t fly out at you while driving. I had an incident with one of those flying roaches but at least I was in a safer environment. I lived in Mississippi in a trailer for 9 months with my husband while he was in the service. He was away for 3 weeks of training when one night I saw my first of those things flying around my bedroom. I am surprised your daughter was able to kill it with her flip flop because I used my husband’s steel toed boots and still didn’t kill it. I emptied an entire can of bug spray on it and it’s a wonder I didn’t affixiate myself and our new puppy (who was barking up a storm lol).

  12. bn100 says:

    find someone to help out

  13. CrystalGB says:

    I am so paranoid of bugs crawling on me or flying at me. I would have had to find it before getting on the road.

  14. Quilt Lady says:

    I am not bad over bugs except maybe a spider. Snakes is what I don’t like and one day there was a large one in our back yard. I went to get the garden hoe to kill it and by the time I got there with the hoe to kill it my son had already picked it up and put it in a bucket. He was going to keep it and I told him to take it back to the woods. He set it by a tree and went to get something to cover the snake with and it got away and went up the tree. No more snake and son didn’t have a new pet.

  15. mimi says:

    I think your bug’s cousin paid a visit to me today. He was parked up in a corner of the room and was first noticed by a student sitting clear across my great big classroom, so that’ll tell you how big he was (3 inches, easy). So I threw a sandal at him. TWICE. Sucker didn’t even flinch! It took a big roll of paper and Miguel’s size-10 to dispatch him to Bug Heaven (if there is such a place other than Florida). I’m always amazed at who gets freaked out by palmetto bugs. Me, not so much, but it’s quite amusing when the kid who’s all “Get it get it get it OMG” is a 6-foot-plus football player. 😉

  16. Lori Howe says:

    oh fun.. I cannot Stand Palmetto bugs. I don’t miss that about FL. It will be interesting to see all the situations people post… I think the worst for me has to be out on the swift, high, FRiGid Snake River and not being able to find the paddles. Yeah, okay, they were there, but “I” couldn’t see them at the time. hmph. I’ve done the bug dance, the mouse scatter, the OMG there’s a Moose in the window jump, quick-let-me-move-the-snake wiggle but thinking about being on a river without paddles did it for me. (congrats on the successful move of College Girl.. we get to do that next week with Ms College Graduate and packing isn’t her ‘thing’.)

  17. Rochelle says:

    Loved your story! When I was in college, I came home late one night and there was that same bug running around the house. I chased it down but couldn’t find it. I woke up in the middle of the night to something crawling on my face (it was hiding in my hair – aaaaaaaaa). I flew out of bed and chased that sucker down, and threw a 10 lb magazine on it.

  18. Thank you, Nancy. Y’know, I’m not exactly the heroine of any story. More like her wise-cracking best friend. Good luck with the release of “Falling for Fortune”!

  19. Marcy Shuler says:

    LOL I really loved your “Oh! Ew. Really?” response, Nancy! 😀

    I’ve had the same type of experience with a spider crawling around inside the car. *shudder* Only I don’t scream while driving. I just try to find something to smash the sucker before it gets closer to me or hides. Ugh.

  20. Emily B. says:

    I am always having bugs fly at me or crawling around me for some reason. Just today, while outside a bug was flying around me and while I was trying to get it to fly away, I was jumping around and swinging while swatting at it. I am pretty sure that I looked like a pure idiot to anyone that was passing by my house but that darn bug would not leave me alone.

  21. I loved these stories, everyone! 🙂 Tune in Sunday for the winners’ names!

  22. Glenda says:

    I’m sitting here laughing in part because I used to go to summer camp in Fla and those palmetto bugs got everywhere including a couple in the van on our way home one year. Six preteen girls and a male driver who hated bugs worse than us.

    We get bugs and spiders in the storage area at work. Last summer a 6’4″ college football player worked with us. We had him and another college age kid clean the back area. We really didn’t know he was so terrified of spiders until he came flying out of the back area pale as a ghost. . . Poor thing couldn’t go back again that day. It seems not one, but 2 spiders crawled on his arm.

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