Friday, February 26, 2010

The Perfect Shot has a cover!

Guess who has new cover art… it’s me!
Okay, that wasn’t very hard to guess, was it? But, here it is, my fabulous cover for the second book in the Hollywood Headlines series, The Perfect Shot:

Isn’t it awesome?! I have to say, I think this is my favorite cover of all time. It’s so James Bond. But with hot pink!

In honor of my awesome Bond-ish cover, here’s an excerpt of The Perfect Shot. This is the first time I’ve posted it anywhere, so I’d love to hear your thoughts!


The Perfect Shot

Chapter One:

“Come on, baby, just an inch to the left…” I shifted, feeling my feet go numb.

“That’s it,” I coaxed. “Right there, that’s the spot… yes!”

My finger hit the shutter, and I popped off five shots in rapid succession before my subject ducked back behind the curtain of magnolia trees shading his property. I lifted myself up onto my elbows, checking the digital window to see my handiwork. Hot. I’d caught Trace Brody shirtless, a beer in hand. I was too far away, even with my telephoto lens, to make out the label on the bottle, but I knew he always drank beer when the temp rose above 90. He was too manly for those fruity wines, not pretentious enough to drink the trendy martinis his other Malibu neighbors enjoyed.

I’d been watching Trace for weeks now, ever since his publicist had finally confirmed rumors that the hot young actor was engaged to American’s sweetheart, Jamie Lee Lancaster. Think Angelina and Brad… without the tattoos and horde of kids. You’d be close. Then imagine if they suddenly announced they were going to have a big blowout wedding on a cliff above the Malibu coastline. The press about peed their collective pants. My boss, Felix Dunn, editor in chief of the L.A. Informer, included. He’d pulled me from Britney watch and immediately put me to work documenting Trace’s every move between now and the big day.

Not that I minded. I’m much rather spend my days laid out on the hillside above Trace’s multi-million dollar spread in Richie-Rich-ville than chasing Britt on her latest Starbucks run. At least here I got the shirtless view.

I stretched out again on the grass, ignoring the way it tickled the exposed skin at my midriff between my too-low jeans and my too-high T-shirt. (The curse of being a nearly six foot tall women - nothing was ever long enough). I wiped a bead of sweat from my upper lip and put the lens back up to my eye again, slowly sweeping the tree line for another glimpse of my subject.

“Come on, Trace. Play nice.”

Miraculously, he walked right into my line of vision. I could swear sometimes he actually heard me.

“That’s my boy. Now turn this way, give me a smile, honey.”

I watched him set his beer down on a table. He reached both arms up to the sky, stretching, letting out a cat-like yawn.

“Tired? Being a movie star must be such tough work, huh?” I clicked off a couple shots.

Trace moved his head side-to-side, working out the kinks in his neck. I lost him for a moment as he crossed the patio toward his Olympic sized swimming pool, complete with faux rock waterfall and hot tub painted to look like a bubbling lagoon. But my lens caught up with him again as he approached the diving board.

“Fancy a little swim?” I asked the deserted hillside.

As if in answer, Trace dipped a toe into the water. Apparently satisfied with the temperature, he shrugged, walking out onto the diving board.

I hit the shutter, taking three quick shots. He bounced a little, staring down into the crystal clear blue water. But he didn’t jump. Instead his hands strayed to the waistband of his trunks and, in one swift movement, they fell round his ankles.

I froze. My eyes glued to the lens, a small bead of sweat trickling down between my breasts. I think I might have even forgot to breath. The only part of me that seemed to still be working was my trigger finger, clicking off shots like mad. Felix would have a heart attack when he saw these.

Then give me a raise.

Trace kicked his shorts away, then walked his gloriously naked self out to the edge of the diving board.

“Good God, you’re beautiful,” I whispered. Not that I expected anything less. He was, after all, a movie star. But this was one man who needed no airbrushing. How he managed to avoid that white-butt-tanned-torso thing, I had no idea. Lord knows I would have known by now if he were a nude sunbather. But he was a smooth, warm, honey color from his perfectly hardened six-pack abs to his perfectly hardened… other parts.

“Jaime Lee must be one happy women, huh, Trace?”

He ignored me. Of course. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was weird to talk to him out loud. Almost worse than talking to myself. But I couldn’t help it. He had no idea I existed, but he’d been my constant companion for the past six weeks. At a safe distance, of course. If I ever actually came face to face with the movie star, I’d probably wet my pants. With a telephoto lens and a football field between us, I was cool as a cucumber at a day spa. In person? Well, let’s just say I’ve never been one of those people-persons. I liked people fine, but my gift has never been an ability to carry on clever conversations with the opposite sex while looking suave and sophisticated. My conversations with guys usually included lots of blushing and really smart comments that came to me only after the cute guy had moved on to the sophisticated brunette at the next table.

So, some people talked to their plants, I talked to movie stars who didn’t know I existed.

Naked ones, currently.

I watched as he reached his hands up above his head, bounced once on the diving board, then cut cleanly into the pristine, blue water with hardly a splash.
I felt sweat travel down my spine and could almost feel the sweet, cool water washing over my own skin. I shivered, goose bumps breaking out on my arms as I popped off a few more shots of Trace resurfacing.

“Baby, that was amazing,” I told him, suddenly feeling like I needed a cigarette.
I watched as he pulled himself from the water, shimmering droplets clinging to his gym-sculpted body, and wrapped a towel around his waist before picking up his beer again and heading inside.

I sat up and peeled the lens from my eye. The distance between my secluded hillside and his fancy pool was immediately apparent, and I let out a long breath as his French doors shut behind him.

I’m not sure how long I watch his closed doors, reliving my glimpse of Trace au-natural, before my phone rang from my pocket. Shifting in the grass, I slipped it out.

“Cameron Dakota,” I answered.

“Cam,” came my boss’s voice. “Where are you?”

“Malibu. Why?”

“We got a tip that Jamie Lee’s trying on wedding dresses in Beverly Hills,” he said, his British accent giving his words a lilting rhythm. “How fast can you get there?”

I bit the inside of my cheek. “If I get caught speeding, will the paper cover the ticket?”

I could hear Felix’s wallet squeaking in the silence in the other end. Finally he relented. “Yes.”

“Give me twenty minutes.”

Felix rattled off the address of the boutique where Jamie Lee had been spotted. Then added, “If she settles on a dress today, I want to be the first to run with a photo, got it?”

“Aye, aye, chief.”

“And Cam?”


“You get any good pics of Trace today?”

I pulled up my view screen again, checking out the series of nude shots that even a tabloid like the Informer would have to censor parts of. I couldn’t help a grin.

“Did I ever.”

What can I say? Being the paparazzi’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.


~Trigger Happy Halliday


Zita said...

Really, really good. And the cover is excellent!

Anonymous said...

I love the cover art and the excerpt ! Can't wait to read it ;-)

Dru said...

I love the cover.

Christine Lawrence said...

Love love love it!

Can't wait to read the whole book :)

Becky LeJeune said...

I love it! Can't wait -- Scandal Sheet was hilarious fun.

Gemma Halliday said...

Yay! Thanks, everyone!

(And high-five to Dorchester's art department!)


Rashda Khan said...

OMG! I soooo have to read this :)

Leona said...

This excerpt makes me WANT to read a book about Hollywood. I don't normally care to read them but I really like this :D Cover art is exquisite.

One minor detail and please, please don't take this wrong. I'm in the middle of editing/rewriting two MS so...

Just in case this is an actual copied/pasted excerpt from what's going to print...

Wouldn't it be "six foot woman" not "six foot women" because she says it in the singular prior??

I know how expensive it is to fix errors after a certain point and wanted you to be able to correct it, if needed. If not, ignore me :D

Love the excerpt. You are the second author I've found on this site to send me to reading stuff I normally wouldn't have looked twice at:) Thanks!

Enchanted by Books said...

LOVE the cover and I can't waittttt!! I love your books Gemma!!

Brandy said...

The cover is awesome and I can't wait to read it! Great excerpt, thank you!

Refhater said...

Love the cover and the excerpt!

Tori Lennox said...

The cover and the excerpt both totally rock!!!

Beth Yarnall said...

Love the new cover! When does it come out?

Leona said...

oooh Beth, good question! I have found myself wondering about the rest of the story and wanting to finish it :D Always a good sign!

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