Saturday, June 21, 2008


It's June 21st, time for the Teen
FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will
feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST

and her book:

Zondervan (May 1, 2008)


sixth grade, Melody Carlson helped start a school newspaper called The
BuccaNews (her school’s mascot was a Buccaneer...arrr!). As editor of this
paper, she wrote most of the material herself, creating goofy phony
bylines to hide the fact that the school newspaper was mostly a "one man"

Visit the Melody's website to see all of her wonderful
and various book titles.

Don't miss the second book in this
series: Stealing Bradford (Carter House Girls, Book 2)

And one of
her latest, A Mile in My Flip-Flops will be featured on FIRST Blog Alliance
on July 1st!

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2008)

Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714885


“Desiree,” called Inez as she
knocked on the other side of the closed bedroom door. “Mrs. Carter wants
to see you downstairs.”

“The name is DJ.”

sorry, but your grandmother has instructed me to call you Desiree.”

DJ opened the door and looked down on the short and slightly
overweight middle-aged housekeeper. “And I have instructed you to call me

Inez’s dark eyes twinkled as she gave her a sly grin.
“Yes, but it’s your grandmother who pays my salary, Desiree. I take
orders from Mrs. Carter. And she wants to see you downstairs in her office,

DJ grabbed her favorite Yankees ball cap and
shoved it onto her head, pulling her scraggly looking blonde ponytail
through the hole in the back of it.

“You’re wearing that?” asked
Inez with a frown. “You know what your grandmother says about?—?-”

“Look,” said DJ. “My grandmother might pay you to take orders
from her, but I’m a free agent. Got that?”

Inez chuckled. “I
got that. But you’re the one who’ll be getting it before too long,

“DJ,” she growled as she tromped loudly down the curving
staircase. Why had she let Dad talk her into living with her
grandmother for her last two years of high school? She’d only been here since
last spring, late into the school year, but long enough to know that it
was nearly unbearable. Boarding school would be better than this. At
least she’d have a little privacy there and no one constantly riding
her?—?-telling her how to act, walk, look, and think. She wished there were
some way, short of running away (which would be totally stupid), out of
this uncomfortable arrangement.

“There you are,” said
Grandmother when DJ walked into the office. Her grandmother frowned at her
ball cap and then pasted what appeared to be a very forced smile onto
her collagen-injected lips. “I want you to meet a new resident.” She made
a graceful hand movement, motioning to where an attractive and
somewhat familiar-looking Latina woman was sitting next to a fashionably
dressed girl who seemed to be about DJ’s age, but could probably pass for
older. The girl was beautiful. Even with the scowl creasing her forehead,
it was obvious that this girl was stunning. Her skin was darker than
her mother’s, latte-colored and creamy. Her long black hair curled
softly around her face. She had high cheekbones and dramatic eyes.

DJ noticed her grandmother smiling her approval on this
unhappy-looking girl. But the girl looked oblivious as she fiddled with the gold
chain of what looked like an expensive designer bag. Not that DJ was an
expert when it came to fashion. The woman stood politely, extending her
hand to DJ.

“I’d like to present my granddaughter, Desiree
Lane.” Grandmother turned back to DJ now, the approval evaporating from
her expression. “Desiree, this is Ms. Perez and her daughter Taylor.”

DJ shook the woman’s hand and mumbled, “Nice to meet you.” But
the unfriendly daughter just sat in the leather chair, one long leg
elegantly crossed over the other, as she totally ignored everyone in the

Grandmother continued speaking to DJ, although DJ
suspected this little speech was for Taylor’s mother. “Ms. Perez and I
first met when my magazine featured her for her illustrious music career.
Her face graced our cover numerous times over the years. Perhaps you’ve
heard of Eva Perez.”

The woman smiled. “Or perhaps not,” she
said in a voice that was as smooth as honey. “According to my
daughter, kids in your age group don’t comprise even a minuscule part of my fan

DJ smiled at the woman now. “Actually, I have heard
of you, Ms. Perez. My mom used to play your CDs. She was a serious
Latin jazz fan.”

“Was?” She frowned. “I hope her taste in music
hasn’t changed. I need all the fans I can get these days.”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “Desiree’s mother?—?-my daughter?—?-was
killed in a car accident about a year ago.”

“Oh, I’m so

DJ sort of nodded. She never knew how to react when
-people said they were sorry about the loss of her mother. It wasn’t as if
it were their fault.

“Desiree,” said Grandmother, “Would you
mind giving Taylor a tour of the house while I go over some business
details with her mother?”

“No problem.”

Grandmother’s recently Botoxed forehead creased ever so slightly, and DJ knew
that, once again, she had either said the wrong thing, used bad grammar,
or was slumping like a “bag of potatoes.” Nothing she did ever seemed
right when it came to her grandmother. “And after the tour, perhaps you
could show Taylor to her room.”

“Which room?” asked DJ,
feeling concerned. Sure, Taylor might be a perfectly nice person, even if a
little snobbish, but DJ was not ready for a roommate just yet.

“The blue room, please. Inez has already taken some of Taylor’s bags
up for her. Thank you, Desiree.”

Feeling dismissed as well
as disapproved of, DJ led their reluctant new resident out to the
foyer. “Well, you’ve probably already seen this.” DJ waved her arm toward
the elegant front entrance with its carved double doors and shining
marble floor and Persian rug. She motioned toward the ornate oak staircase.
“And that’s where the bedrooms are, but we can see that later.” She
walked through to the dining room. “This is where we chow down.” She
pointed to the swinging doors. “The kitchen’s back there, but the cook,
Clara, can be a little witchy about trespassers.” DJ snickered. “Besides,
my grandmother does not want her girls to spend much time in the kitchen

“Like that’s going to be a problem,” said Taylor,
the first words she’d spoken since meeting DJ.

“Huh?” said

“I don’t imagine anyone is going to be exactly pigging
out around here. I mean aren’t we all supposed to become famous models or
something?” asked Taylor as she examined a perfectly manicured

DJ frowned. “Well, my grandmother did edit one of the
biggest fashion magazines in the world, but I don’t think that means
we’re all going to become famous models. I know I’m not.”

peered curiously at her. “Why not? You’ve got the height, the build,
and you’re not half bad looking .?.?. well, other than the fact that you
obviously have absolutely no style.” She sort of laughed, but not with
genuine humor. “But then you’ve got your grandmother to straighten
that out for you.”

DJ just shook her head. “I think my
grandmother will give up on me pretty soon. Especially when the others get
here. She’ll have girls with more promise to set her sights on.” At least
that was what DJ was hoping.

“Has anyone else arrived?”

“Not yet.” DJ continued the tour. “This is the library.” She
paused to allow Taylor to look inside the room and then moved on. “And
that’s the sunroom, or observatory, as Grandmother calls it.” She laughed.
“Hearing her talk about this house sometimes reminds me of playing


“You know, the murder game, like where
Colonel Mustard kills Mrs. Peacock with a wrench in the

“Oh, I never played that.”

“Right .?.?.” Then DJ
showed Taylor the large living room, the most modern space in the
house. Grandmother had put this room together shortly after deciding to take
on her crazy venture. Above the fireplace hung a large flat-screen TV,
which was connected to a state-of-the-art DVD and sound system. This
was encircled by some comfortable pieces of leather furniture, pillows,
and throws.

“Not bad,” admitted Taylor.

back to the twenty-first century.”

“Do you have wireless

“Yeah. I told Grandmother it was a necessity for


“This house has been in our family for
a long time,” said DJ as she led Taylor up the stairs. “But no one has
lived here for the past twenty years. My grandmother had it restored
after she retired a -couple of years ago.” DJ didn’t add that her
grandmother had been forced to retire due to her age (a carefully guarded and
mysterious number) or that this new business venture, boarding teen
“debutantes,” was to help supplement her retirement income. Those were
strict family secrets and, despite DJ’s angst in living here, she did have
a sense of family loyalty?—?-at least for the time being. She wasn’t
sure if she could control herself indefinitely.

DJ stopped at
the second-floor landing. “The bedrooms are on this floor, and the
third floor has a ballroom that would be perfect for volleyball, although
Grandmother has made it clear that it’s not that kind of ballroom.” She
led Taylor down the hall. “My bedroom is here,” she pointed to the
closed door. “And yours is right next door.” She opened the door. “The
blue room.”

Taylor looked into the pale blue room and shook her
head in a dismal way. “And is it true that I have to share this room
with a perfect stranger?”

“Well, I don’t know how perfect
she’ll be.”

“Funny.” Taylor rolled her eyes as she opened a
door to one of the walk-in closets opposite the beds.


“It’s not as big as I expected.”

“It’s bigger
than it looks,” said DJ as she walked into the room and then pointed to a
small alcove that led to the bathroom.

“Do I get any say in
who becomes my roommate?”

“I guess you can take that up with
my grandmother.”

Taylor tossed her purse onto the bed
closest to the bathroom and then kicked off her metallic-toned sandals.
“These shoes might be Marc Jacobs, but they’re killing me.”

you’re really into this?” asked DJ. “The whole fashion thing?”

Taylor sat down on the bed, rubbing a foot. “There’s nothing wrong
with wanting to look good.”

DJ felt the need to bite her
tongue. Taylor was her grandmother’s first official paying customer to
arrive and participate in this crazy scheme. Far be it from DJ to rock
Grandmother’s boat. At least not just yet.

“Well, thanks for
the tour,” said Taylor in a bored voice. Then she went over to where a
set of expensive-looking luggage was stacked in a corner. “Don’t the
servants around here know how to put things away properly?”

“Properly?” DJ shrugged.

Taylor picked up the top bag and laid
it down on the bench at the foot of one of the beds and opened it.

“Don’t you want to go down and tell your mom good-bye?” asked DJ
as she moved toward the door.

Taylor laughed in a mean way.
“And make her think she’s doing me a favor by dumping me here? Not on
your life.”

“Here are some more bags for Miss Mitchell,” said
Inez as she lugged two large suitcases into the room, setting them by
the door.

“Put them over there,” commanded Taylor, pointing
to the bench at the foot of the other bed. “And don’t pile them on top
of each other. This happens to be Louis Vuitton, you know.”

DJ saw Inez make a face behind Taylor’s back. But the truth was DJ
didn’t blame her. Inez might be a housekeeper, but she didn’t deserve to be
treated like a slave. Suddenly, DJ felt guilty for snapping at Inez
earlier today. She smiled now, and Inez looked surprised and a little
suspicious. Then DJ grabbed the largest bag, hoisted it onto the bench
with a loud grunt, and Taylor turned around and gave her a dark scowl.

“Thank you,” she snapped.

“Later,” said DJ as she
exited the room with Inez on her heels.

“Mrs. Carter wants to
see you downstairs, Desiree,” announced Inez when they were out on the

“Again?” complained DJ. “What for?”

“Another girl just arrived. Your grandmother wants you to give her a tour

“What am I now?” asked DJ. “The official tour

“That sounds about right.” Inez gave her a smirk.

DJ wasn’t sure if she could stomach another fashion diva with an
attitude problem, but on the other hand, she didn’t want to risk another
etiquette lecture from her grandmother either. Once again, she clomped down
the stairs and made her appearance in the office, suppressing the urge
to bow and say, “At your ser-vice, Madam.”

“Eliza,” gushed
Grandmother, “This is my granddaughter, Desiree Lane. And Desiree, I’d
like you to meet Eliza Wilton.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet
you, Desiree.”

DJ nodded. She could tell by how formal her
grandmother was acting that Eliza Wilton must be someone really
important?—?-meaning extraordinarily wealthy?—?-even more so than the Mitchells.
And that’s when she remembered her grandmother going on about “the
Wilton fortune” this morning at breakfast. Of course, that must be Eliza’s

“Nice to meet ya, Eliza,” DJ said in a purposely
casual tone. This girl was pretty too, but not like Taylor’s dark and
dramatic beauty. Eliza was a tall, slender, impeccably dressed, blue-eyed
blonde. She wasn’t exactly a Paris Hilton clone?—?-and she didn’t have a
little dog as far as DJ could see?—?-but there was a similarity, except
that Eliza’s face was a little softer looking, a little sweeter, but
then looks could be deceiving.

DJ wondered if the Botox was
starting to wear off, as her grandmother studied her with a furrowed
brow, probably comparing her to Miss Perfect Eliza. Naturally, DJ would
not measure up.

“Eliza is from Louisville,” said Grandmother.
“Her parents are presently residing in France, where her father just
purchased a vineyard. But Eliza’s grandmother and I are old friends. We
went to college together. When she heard about what I was doing up here
in Connecticut, she encouraged her daughter to send dear Eliza our

“Lucky Eliza,” said DJ in a droll tone.

actually giggled. Then Grandmother cleared her throat. “Desiree will
give you a tour of the house,” she said. “And she’ll show you to your

“Which is .?.?.??” asked DJ.

“The rose

Of course, thought DJ as she led Eliza from the office. Next
to her grandmother’s suite, the rose room was probably the best room
in the house. Naturally, someone as important as Eliza would be entitled
to that. Not that DJ had wanted it. And perhaps her grandmother had
actually offered it to her last month. DJ couldn’t remember. But she had
never been a flowery sort of girl, and she knew the rose wallpaper in
there would’ve been giving her a serious migraine by now. Besides she
liked her sunny yellow bedroom and, in her opinion, it had the best view
in the house. On a clear day, you could actually glimpse a sliver of
the Atlantic Ocean from her small bathroom window.

DJ started
to do a repeat of her earlier tour, even using the same lines, until
she realized that Eliza was actually interested.

“How old is
this house?”

“Just over a hundred years,” DJ told her. “It
was built in 1891.”

“It has a nice feel to it.”

considered this. “Yeah, I kinda thought that too, after I got used to
it. To be honest, it seemed pretty big to me at first. But then you’re
probably used to big houses.”

“I suppose. Not that I’m
particularly fond of mansions.”

“Why aren’t you with your
parents?” asked DJ. “In France?”

“They’re concerned about things
like politics and security,” said Eliza as they exited the library. “In
fact, they almost refused to let me come here.”


“Oh, I think they felt I was safer in boarding school. If our
grandmothers hadn’t been such good friends, I’m sure they never would’ve

“So, you’re happy to be here?” DJ studied Eliza’s

“Sure, aren’t you?”

DJ frowned. “I don’t
know .?.?. I guess.”

“I think it’ll be fun to go to a real
high school, to just live like a normal girl, with other normal

DJ tried not to look too shocked. “You think this is

Eliza laughed. “I guess I don’t really know what normal
is, but it’s more normal that what I’m used to.”

“But what
about the whole fashion thing?” asked DJ. “I mean you must know about my
grandmother’s plans to turn us all into little debutantes. Are you into
all that?”

“That’s nothing new. Remember, I’m from the
south. My family is obsessed with turning me into a lady. That was one of
the other reasons my parents agreed to this. I think they see the Carter
House as some sort of finishing school.”

Or some sort of
reformatory school, thought DJ. Although she didn’t say it out loud. Not
yet, anyway.

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