Category Archives: Competitions

Goodreads review competition – it’s happening!

As my regular readers know, I’ve been toying with the idea of running a competition where people who review The Big Smoke go into a draw to win a $5o book voucher. Well, I recently received an email response from Goodreads saying they were happy for me to run the competition, so I figured what the heck?! Let’s do this! Competition details are below and on the dedicated competition page.

If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense or that puts up a red flag for you in the info below, please let me know. I’ll also draw your attention to the fact that people who have already posted reviews about The Big Smoke on Goodreads are eligible to enter – that some of you guys, so don’t miss out! 🙂

Without further ado, here’s the info!


The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson

Would you like to go into the draw to win a $50 book voucher? Of course you would!

All you have to do is read my novel, The Big Smoke, and write an honest review of 100 words or more about it on Goodreads. Yep, it’s that simple!

How do I enter? 

Once you’ve written your review on Goodreads, you can register your competition entry via the competition rafflecopter.

There will be a simple question about the novel as part of the registration process to ensure all entrants have actually read the book.

You can earn bonus points for telling people about the competition via Facebook, Twitter or your blog and/or by posting your review in other places such as Amazon or Smashwords.

Sounds great! What else do I need to know?

  • Reviews must be posted on Goodreads.
  • Reviews do NOT have to be positive. Any considered review of 100 words or more is eligible to win, provided it doesn’t contravene Goodreads’ review guidelines.
  • The winner can choose which book seller they would like to receive their $50 gift voucher from (as long as I can buy it from Australia).
  • The competition will close on Monday 11 March 2013. If less than 50 reviews are received before the closing date, the competition will be cancelled.
  • The winner will be contacted via email.
  • People who have already posted reviews on Goodreads are eligible to enter into the competition.
  • Goodreads has given permission for me to run this competition.
  • Relatives of the author are not permitted to enter (sorry, Mum).
  • The Big Smoke is available to buy in e-copy from AmazonSmashwords, iBooks, KoboDiesel Books, and hard copy from this blog (Australia and New Zealand) and Amazon.

Any questions? 

If you have any questions about the competition, please comment below or contact me.



Filed under Book review, Competitions, The Big Smoke, Writing

A shining spotlight, a bumpdate and a Goodreads giveaway of The Big Smoke!

A shining spotlight… 

The wonderful Juliana Haygert has been kind enough to shine her author spotlight my way. Have you ever wondered what my nicknames are? Or maybe you’d like to know what I’m working on now? All is revealed in Juliana’s Author Spotlight!


It’s been a while since I’ve provided you with a bumpdate (read: pregnancy update), and seeing as I had my baby shower on the weekend, I figured now was the perfect time! I’m now 32.5 weeks pregnant and feeling a lot less mobile than usual. I had a wonderful baby shower on the weekend and have exactly 16 days of work left before I go on maternity leave (not that I’m counting ;)).

My ankles are swollen, I’ve been getting heaps of practice contractions, and I only have to walk 100 metres to feel like I’ve climbed a mountain, but all in all, everything is going really well. Can’t wait to meet our little girl!

A Goodreads giveaway!

On my travels throughout the blogosphere, I’ve heard many indie publishers say that Goodreads giveaways have helped them gain exposure for their books and generate excitement. So I figured: sounds awesome, I’ll jump on the bandwagon and give it a try!

This means I’m giving away two paperback copies of The Big Smoke to two lucky Goodreads members. If you’re keen to read The Big Smoke but haven’t had a chance yet,  make sure you enter the giveaway by 14 December (it’s free!).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson

The Big Smoke

by Cally Jackson

Giveaway ends December 14, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

How about you?

What’s happening in your world? Have you ever won a book from a Goodreads giveaway? Have you ever run one? What was your experience? Do share! 🙂

P.S. Next Tuesday will be one month since I launched The Big Smoke into the world. To mark the occasion, I’ll give you an update on what I’ve learnt so far since launching – no holds barred! Stay tuned…


Filed under Competitions, Personal, The Big Smoke, Writer interview, Writing

The Big Smoke soundtrack, IWSG, early reader reactions and a competition idea…

The Big Smoke soundtrack

In the seventh stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting over at Charity’s Writing Journey about the soundtrack to The Big Smoke. Here’s a sneak peak…

Like many authors, I often use music to help get me into the right mood when I’m writing. I used this technique frequently when writing my debut novel, The Big Smoke, which is told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Seb and Ceara. Interestingly, I could only ever listen to music where the lead singer was the same gender as the character. (Strange, I know!). Read more…

The Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) and some early reader reactions to The Big Smoke 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

You might remember that as part of IWSG a few months ago, I posted about a fear I had. It went something like this:

“Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.”

Well, I’m pleased to say that hasn’t happened yet. I do have a slight fear that they’re still coming, but some lovely reviews from early readers have helped to set my mind at ease. I thought I might share some snippets of these reviews with you. (Note: each of these reviewers received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson“I’m going to be honest here and say that originally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this. I wasn’t sure it was going to be “my thing” by the blurb. For that reason, it means a lot more when I say I REALLY enjoyed this… Cally did a wonderful job digging into some deep emotional topics in a realistic and believable way.” Charity Bradford (read the rest of Charity’s review)

“I received an Advanced Reader Edition of Cally Jackson’s debut novel, and I read it in just a few days. It was THAT good… The Big Smoke is a complex look into the lives of college freshman that tackles issues of body image disorder… abandonment, sex, relationships, and loss. This is a great book, and you would do good to read it for yourself.” Michael Offutt (read the rest of Michael’s review)

“Relationships, romance, drama, humour, heartbreak, coming of age–this book has a lot packed into it! It’s a long book. Not long in a this-story-is-dragging-on-forever-I-wish-it-would-end kinda way. No, no, no. Long in a I-scored-two-awesome-books-in-one kinda way!!” Rachel Morgan (read the rest of Rachel’s review)

“This book sneaks up on you, grabs you by the throat, and doesn’t let you go until the last page… The Big Smoke boldly sets itself against the current trend of shallow character development and over reliance on plot. What the reader finds instead is an organic development of connections, entanglements and emotional high stakes, which provide much food for imaginative reflection.” Mari Webb (read the rest of Mari’s review)

“I don’t normally review books, and if I was going to review a book it would have to be one I was crazy in love with. THE BIG SMOKE definitely didn’t disappoint… What I loved most about this book was how distinct Seb’s and Ceara’s voices were. Sometimes with books written from a multiple POV it’s very hard to differentiate bewteen the charcaters, but in Cally’s novel the voices were not only very different but very authentic.”  Tracey Joseph (read the rest of Tracey’s review)

How awesome is that?! I’m so unbelievably happy that The Big Smoke is connecting with readers – which leads nicely into the next topic I wanted to cover…

A competition idea – 50 Amazon reviews for a $50 book voucher 

So many people say that reviews  are one of the driving factors behind a book’s success. And while I’ve been overjoyed to receive the reviews I have, so many other people have dropped me a line on Facebook, Twitter or email to say how much they enjoyed The Big Smoke, but they don’t get around to actually reviewing it (which I totally understand – writing a review take time and mental energy).  However, I thought maybe I offered up a little incentive, they’d decide it was worth their while!

It’s still just an idea at this stage, and I’m keen to hear your thoughts about it. Here’s a bit more info about what I’m thinking:

  • Reviews do NOT have to be positive. Anyone who takes the time to write a considered review of 100 words or more can enter.
  • People do not have to have a blog to enter. Reviews are to be posted on Amazon (as well as anywhere else people would like to post them) so ANYONE can enter.
  • The winner can choose which book seller they would like to receive their $50 gift voucher from (as long as I can buy it from Australia).
  • I will set a time limit of six months on the competition. If I don’t receive 50 reviews in six months, the competition will be cancelled.
  • People who have already posted reviews on Amazon will be automatically entered into the competition so they’re not ruled out for being my early supporters.

I’m quite excited by the idea because I LOVE hearing the reactions that The Big Smoke has prompted from people, even if they’re not so glowing! There are a few risks though. These are the ones that immediately spring to mind:

  • Am I just asking for negative reviews by putting this out there?
  • Although I will be very clear that all reviews (as long as they don’t contravene Amazon’s guidelines) are eligible to win, perhaps it could come across like I’m trying to solicit positive reviews.

So… what do you think? Good idea? Terrible idea? Considerations or other angles I haven’t thought of? I’m really keen to hear your thoughts.

And don’t forget to check out The Big Smoke soundtrack over at Charity Bradford Writes!


Filed under blog tour, Competitions, Insecure Writers Support Group, The Big Smoke, Writing

Blog tour stop number 5 and the winner of The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest!

Blog tour

In the fifth stop of my blog tour, I’m been interviewed by Melissa Maygrove. Here’s a taste of the interview…

Do you have a favorite character or a favorite scene?

This is a tricky one because I have a lot of favourites. As much as I love my main female character, Ceara, she’s a little too much like me (worries way too much), so I think my main male character, Seb, wins out. He’s a bit hopeless at times but his heart’s in the right place, and he’s quite funny. I laugh at all his jokes – we must have the same sense of humour. 😉

To read the rest of the interview, head on over to Melissa’s blog.

Blogfest wrap-up and winner announcement

Thank you to everyone who participated in my blogfest, The Year I Turned 18. I really enjoyed reading all of your entries and hearing about your eighteenth years. There was so much variety: round-the-world trips, marriage, fights with close friends, beginning to live a Jewish life and many more fascinating experiences. If you missed any of the entries, I’ve included the links below for easy reference.

What Else is Possible?

The Warrior Muse

Teresa Coltrin


Anything Imagined

Pivot Coaching

Rachel Morgan

Clare Dugmore Writes

Words from Sonobe

Cally Jackson Writes

Carrie-Annes Magick Theatre

Write Here, Write Now

Charitys Writing Journey

Paper, Ink and Coffee

Martin Knox

Each blogfest participant (except for me) went into the draw to win a $20 Amazon voucher, and I’m sure you’re all waiting with bated breath to see who took out the prize. I shall keep you in suspense no longer. The winner is…

Rachel Morgan!

I haven’t contacted her to tell her that she won yet because I thought it might be fun to see how long it takes for her to discover the news herself. So do me a favour and don’t tell her! 😀

Once again, thanks to everyone who participated and to everyone who visited and commented on the blogfest participants’ entries!

And don’t forget to check out Melissa Maygrove’s interview with me!


Filed under blog tour, Blogfests, Competitions, The Big Smoke

Cover reveal: The Faerie Guardian

I’m thrilled to be able to take part in today’s cover reveal for Rachel Morgan’s The Faerie Guardian! Not only is it a beautiful cover but the book itself is also a fantastic read.

So… here it is!

And da blurb!

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out of it alive.

[This novel was originally published in four separate parts: GuardianLabyrinthTraitor and Masquerade. It includes bonus scenes at the end.]

Giveaway time!

The bonus scenes at the end of the book are NOT written from the main character’s point of view. If you’d like to win a $10 Amazon gift card, all you have to do is guess whose point of view these scenes are written from! Head on over to the cover reveal post at Rachel Morgan Writes and fill in the Rafflecopter form. There’s a list of characters there that you can choose from. Good luck!


Filed under Competitions, Rachel Morgan

First campaigner challenge: shadows crept…

As part of her fourth campaign, Rach has issued her first challenge. Exciting!

I'm a platform-building campaigner badgeHere’s the challenge in Rach’s words:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:

  • end the story with the words: “everything faded.” (also included in the word count)
  • include the word “orange” in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!

My entry is below. It meets all the criteria above except it’s not quite my normal genre. I had fun writing it, and I hope you have just as much fun reading it. Let me know what you think. 🙂

The last flame

Shadows crept across the wall of the cave as the sun set on the last day of my life. My heart began to pound beneath the satin fabric of my tattered party dress as I watched the last hints of orange disappear from the horizon.

Six hours to go. Six hours until I’d take my last breath. My vision blurred as tears formed in my eyes. Dammit. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.

Beside me, my campfire flickered. I warmed my hands over the flames and examined my fingernails. Only one was still perfectly coated in red polish, the rest were chipped and torn.

To think the party was only two nights ago. To think I’d been worried about whether my shoes matched my dress. I glanced at my feet, covered in bruises and cuts, dirt and blood. My toenails had fared better than my fingernails though – only three were chipped.

I sat down beside the fire and breathed in the smoke. All I could do now was wait. As the hours passed, each flame dwindled to nothing. The night became deathly cold. I hugged my legs to my chest and shivered.

Finally, the last flame died. Everything faded.


Make sure you check out the other entries!


Filed under Competitions, Just for fun, Writers Crusade

Reflections from my first writers festival

For the past five days, I have been immersed in the wonderful world of writing and reading at the Brisbane Writers Festival. It was my first-ever writers festival, and I’m so glad I finally got my act together to dedicate time to the craft of writing. Here are my festival highlights.

Receiving feedback on my manuscript

As my regular readers know, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the 20 pages in 20 minutes session. In this session, I received personalised feedback on my YA manuscript Tangled (the first 20 pages and synopsis) from Farrin Jacobs, an editorial director of HarperCollins who focuses on contemporary teen fiction. Farrin gave me heaps of feedback, both positive and constructive, and I walked away overflowing with thoughts and ideas about how to improve my manuscript.

I’m not going to  share the specifics of Farrin’s feedback because I want to get feedback from my first group of beta readers before I make any major decisions about necessary changes and I don’t want to skew my readers’ judgement. But I will say that the session did a fantastic job of opening my eyes to how Tangled would/could be viewed from a commercial sense and that the feedback was simultaneously uplifting and challenging, not soul destroying. 🙂

Improving my industry knowledge 

On Friday, I attended a four-hour masterclass on the Australian writing marketplace, and on Saturday, I attended a three-hour masterclass on publishing in the young adult and children’s market. These sessions were chock-full of information about the Australian (and international) industry and included Q&As with multiple authors, agents, editors, publishers, publicists, ‘future of the book’ experts and publishing contract specialists.

Although much of what I heard in these sessions, I’d already learned from posts by my wonderful blogging friends, I also gained a lot of new information that I’m sure will help me when (not if! ;-)) I receive that first publishing offer. Rest assured, I’ll be blogging these hints and tips in the near future.

Meeting authors

One of the most inspiring parts of the festival was listening to authors speak about their journeys, their books and their writing processes. Some of the authors I heard from were Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, Kate Morton, Christopher Currie, Ashley Hay, Emily Rodda, Kári Gíslason and  Linda Jaivin. There were a lot more writers at the festival including many others I would’ve loved to hear from, but unfortunately I couldn’t attend every single event on the schedule!

Some of the things I discovered (or re-discovered) from these talks were:

  • Every writer’s journey is different. In saying that, almost all authors I heard from were rejected at least once before they landed a publishing deal.
  • Every writer’s process is different. Emily Rodda hates detailed plotting and planning – she likes to tell herself the story as she writes. Kate Morton adores detailed plotting and planning, and she spends four to five months on researching and developing her stories before she writes chronologically from beginning to end.

Building relationships

Over the five days, I met so many wonderful people and made a number of connections that will hopefully one day help me succeed as a writer. I attended a networking event one night – alone. Daunting? Yes. Worthwhile? Absolutely. Although I had a few awkward moments of standing on the fringes wondering if I should just go home, I managed to strike up conversations with a few publishers, authors and fellow book lovers. I also managed to meet a few people who I’ve previously only known on Twitter – always nice to connect a real person to the Twitter account!

One of my most exciting connections took place before I even entered the networking tent. As I waited for the doors to open, I struck up a conversation with two women sitting beside me, assuming they were attending the event too. They were actually there to support their sons, who were part of the singing group Voices of Birralee – our entertainment for the evening.

It turned out their sons are both in year eleven or twelve and are avid readers. I now have two teenage male beta readers who will be providing me with a reality check for my teenage male protagonist – hooray! 🙂

(On a side note, the singing group’s performance was amazing, surprising, touching and beautiful. It added a wonderful dimension to the evening.)

Your turn

What have you been up to this week?


Filed under Brisbane Writers Festival, Competitions, Professional development, Publishing, Writers, Writing, YA fiction

First campaigner challenge: the door swung open…

I'm a platform-building campaigner badgeSorry guys, no ‘I Wish I Wrote That’ this week. Instead, I’m posting you something (hopefully) even better!

The awesome Rachael Harrie has issued the first challenge for those of us participating in her current writers’ platform-building campaign. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story (in any format) in 200 words or less, excluding the title. We must begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” (which are included in the word count).

My attempt is an excerpt from Tangled (my novel-in-progress), edited to meet the word limit and make sense on its own. Hope you enjoy it!

Not the best start

The door swung open as I hurried into the bathroom. I looked up to see my flatmate Robert reaching for the towel rack, completely naked and dripping with water. His eyes widened as his hands moved to cover himself.
I stood frozen for a moment, then spluttered an apology. My face burned as I closed the door and ran to my room. My heart was beating like I’d sprinted a kilometre. I wished my bed would swallow me whole.
Inexplicably, I started laughing. I’d just seen Robert nude! He was normally so arrogant, I never could’ve imagined him that vulnerable.
I couldn’t deal with seeing him again so I stayed in my room until the house grew quiet. If I was running late before, it was one hundred times worse now. So I crammed an hour’s worth of getting ready into ten minutes, skipping breakfast, washing my hair, and shaving my legs.
I set foot on the campus with seconds to spare. As I approached the theatre, I told myself there was nothing to be nervous about. Everything was going perfectly. After all, I’d always wanted to start uni with a gurgling stomach and legs as hairy as a gorilla.


Filed under Competitions, Flash fiction, Tangled, Writing

My first writers’ festival

This week, I’ll be spending five days at the Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) — my first-ever writing festival. Naturally, I’m pretty excited about it. I’m taking three days holiday from my full time job (and devoting two weekend days) to immerse myself in workshops and masterclasses on writing, editing and publishing, and to network with Brisbane’s literary community.

When I tell people this is the first time I’ll be attending the BWF, they’re usually surprised that I haven’t been before. So why haven’t I? Mainly because I haven’t been organised enough! In previous years, by the time I realised the festival was approaching, it was too late to organise time off work etc. Perhaps this year I’ve also been more focused on my writing and determined to become the best writer I can be.

The session I’m most looking forward to is 20 pages in 20 minutes. In this session, I’ll be receiving personalised feedback on Tangled (the first 20 pages and synopsis) from an editorial director of HarperCollins who focuses on contemporary teen fiction. Isn’t that awesome?! 😀

I had to apply for the session and was one of about 30 chosen from an ‘overwhelming number’ of applicants, so that’s exciting in itself. Plus, the editor’s area of expertise just so happens to be my exact genre. So I will be hanging off her every word on how I can improve my chances of publication with Tangled. I’m a bit nervous about what she’ll have to say, but I figure that’s only natural. I’ll keep you posted on the feedback I receive!

I’ll also be attending:

I have no doubt that I’m going to learn an absolute truckload from all of those sessions, and of course, I plan to share the best bits with you! So, stay tuned… 🙂

How about you? Have you attended any writing workshops/events/seminars  lately? If so, what did you get from it?


Filed under Competitions, Professional development, Publishing, Writers, Writing, YA fiction

Drama Girl’s awesome feedback

You might remember that a few weeks ago, I requested (okay, begged for) your help about choosing a pitch for Auntie B’s Book Club Contest.

Thanks so much to those who gave me feedback. It definitely helped me choose the best pitch. Although I wasn’t chosen as a finalist, I got some great feedback from Drama Girl, the teen who judged my entry.

Drama girl

Drama girl

Drama Girl’s comments

The pitch is so great and made me want to read the rest. The excerpt is written really well, and I could totally relate to ripping my favorite poster, but it wasn’t enough to wow me. I loved the part about the smear of dog crap on their shoe. I would buy this book because of the pitch alone. It’s that good.

My entry

Title: Tangled
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pitch: Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving to Brisbane for uni. A recipe for love, or disaster?

250-word excerpt

This day’s black fate…

For the first time since I was twelve, my bedroom walls were stripped bare. Only one poster was left to take down – a close up of Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo. I’d left it till last on purpose. The rest of my posters I was chucking out, but this one was coming with me. If I got in trouble from our landlord for one stinking poster, so be it.

I climbed up our wobbly aluminium ladder till I was level with the poster then reached over and peeled the blu-tack from the wall. The final corner was a little out of reach so I went up on my tiptoes, but just as I grabbed it, I lost my balance and slipped. I gasped as a jagged line ripped through Leo’s face and half of him fell to the ground, landing next to my packed suitcase.

‘No,’ I moaned, gripping the ladder so hard my hands hurt. Everything was going wrong today. First I’d broken the antique picture frame Mum gave me for my seventeenth birthday, now this.

Hot, angry tears filled my eyes as I climbed down the ladder, grabbed the poster-half, and ripped it into pieces.  What the hell was I thinking, going ahead with this crazy move? There was no way it was going to work; I should’ve put an end to the idea the first time Mum mentioned it. But I didn’t, and now I was moving into a share-house with Cindy Carter and Robert Grey – two people who thought I was as worthwhile as a smear of dog crap on one of their shoes.


Filed under Competitions, Tangled, Writing, YA fiction