RWA – A Day in the Writing Life…Bec McMaster

Welcome everyone to another Day in the Writing Life post.  Joining us today is Bec McMaster.

autho photo 3

In one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.

Why steampunk romance? It’s a combination of all my favorite genres. Historical romance + fantasy or paranormal elements + sci-fi. Steampunk is all about adventure and exploration, so it’s so much fun to write.

I love anything with a spec-fic nature; dystopian, post-apoc, sci-fi, urban fantasy etc. so I don’t consider myself limited to one genre.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place? Does the location vary?

I have a study set up at the front of the house that has a huge glass window along one wall. I find that I need light when I write, although some afternoons I close the curtains when it gets too hot. One of the walls is bright red, and I have some gorgeous artwork and photos on display. There’s a gold Venetian mask on another wall and my mother-in-law framed an enormous copy of my first book cover for me for Christmas, so that’s due to be hung. I consider it my domain, and it’s usually littered with books and piles of paper.

I can write anywhere else with my laptop; on the train, in the lounge room, in a hotel, but I do prefer to have my own little place. And I’mphoto[4] copy definitely not one of those writers who prefer to go to a café, although I could probably go for the hot chocolate. I like silence and my own space.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between? Are you prepared to show evidence of your claim with a desk photo?  

It’s definitely messy. I have grand plans of filing everything away and then keeping it like that, but piles of paper just seem to grow. I don’t know where it all comes from sometimes.

Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work? Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow?

I always re-read the previous chapter in order to get back into the story. I also find that if I’m struggling for momentum, I’ll go back and read chunks of the story, which I find tends to make me excited again. I call it kick-starting the muse.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?

I consider myself an inbetweener. I used to be a pantser, but I found I often got to the dreaded 60k mark of a book and it all fell apart as I didn’t actually have a direct plot. Nowadays I do a rough synopsis of main events only. I’ve tried all kinds of three-act structures and lining up plot arc’s etc. but it’s much more organic if I don’t structure the story too much at the start. Otherwise I don’t want to write it – I think the subconscious part of my brain thinks that it’s already been done. I need some surprises in there to keep me fresh.

As to editing as I go, I’m definitely guilty of this. By the time the manuscript is finished, it’s probably had about 8-10 read-overs, so it’s in pretty good shape by then. That’s when I sit down for the final edit and go through and ruthlessly cut every word or sentence that doesn’t add anything to the story. One of the best lessons I learned from entering contests (the Emerald actually), was to prune dramatically. I had to enter the first 18 pages in the Emerald and I wanted to end the entry at a specific hook. To do that I needed to cut roughly 5,000 words from the first three chapters, which I thought was impossible. Turns out it’s not and I didn’t miss a single word. That taught me a valuable lesson.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? Are you a goal setter with your writing?

I work part-time, which gives me three solid days of writing a week. I get up at seven, go for a walk and then come back and get on the internet to do all those extra things authors do (like blogging, interviews, updating my website and social media sites). I also look at lots of cat pictures, courtesy of Kylie Griffin.

I usually start writing by ten and stay on the computer until about six. Most of my word count is done in those three days, though if I haven’t made it, then I get up early before work and try to add to it. I work to a weekly word count, rather than a daily one.

As to goal setting, I think it’s very important for me. I’ll be honest and admit that setting goals is what finally got me published, as I often used to faff around, playing with different stories. Setting goals made me serious about getting published, and I still find it keeps me focused on what I want to achieve for that week, month or year. Let’s just say that 2013 is going to be an ambitious year.

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions?

I used to work as a beauty therapist and my specialty was deep-tissue massage, so I’m highly aware of what a desk job will do to you if you don’t look after yourself. Though I don’t schedule breaks, they usually tend to come in the shape of a cup of tea.

One of the most important things for me and my back is exercise. Most nights I go for a run or a walk, and I also go to the gym three-four times a week. I find Body Balance or swimming really useful in helping to loosen all of those muscles that you don’t really think about and I get a massage when I think I need it. One of the best tools I’ve found lately is a pedometer. If I don’t get my 10,000 steps, then I’ll go for an extra walk after dinner. I know if I get lazy and don’t do anything that I feel it through my back and funnily enough, my wrists.

Thank you for being out guest Bec.  For more information of Bec’s amazing books, please visit her website at


London Steampunk Series, Book 2

Sourcebooks • May 2013

ISBN-13: 9781402270307 • ISBN-10: 1402270305


In the mist-shrouded streets of London’s dreaded Whitechapel district, werewolves, vampires and a clockwork army are one

step away from battle…



Lena Todd is the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a rebel against London’s vicious elite—not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger.

Will Carver, is more than man, he’s a verwulfen and he wants nothing to do with the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds Lena in possession of a coded letter, he realizes she’s in a world of trouble. To protect her, he’ll have to seduce the truth from her before it’s too late.

“Deftly blends elements of steampunk and vampire romance with brilliantly successful results…darkly atmospheric and delectably sexy.”Booklist, starred review for KISS OF STEEL


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  1. Agree wholeheartedly with you Bec, setting writing goals is what really does get results.

  2. Jenn J McLeod | Come home to the country...

     /  March 29, 2013

    Thx Bec, I needed to hear that about muscle tension. I’ve been struggling with it. The combination of stress and writing is taking its toll. Okay, I’m off on a walk now.


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