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We’ve recently put the clocks forward, so we’ve lost another hour. Why did that seem so important? I mean, what could we have done with that extra hour?

They say that TIME is the most precious commodity we have… And how we’ve used it in the past, determines much about our todays and our tomorrows.

I seem to have been racing time a lot recently.  Have you noticed how often time just seems to disappear?  As writers we often get engrossed with research – that’s the fun bit, losing yourself in another world, following one link that leads to another intriguing story, then another. Then we glance at the clock. Another day is almost gone. “Where did the time go…” we ask ourselves time and again. It’s so easy just to fritter time away.

“Take time to stop and smell the roses,” goes the old saying. Make time your friend, they say. How? I ask myself, as I attempt to do ten things at once. It’s a knack!

Clock flying

Think of all those ‘time’ related phrases: from ‘once upon a time,’ ‘a whale of a good time,’ ‘living on borrowed time…’  or ‘My, how time flies when you’re having fun!’ ’Time and Tide wait for no man- or woman.’ You get the idea.

One of the most famous book openings is, ‘It was the best of times. It was the worst of times,” in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  Fashion icon Coco Chanel said of time, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” Or businessman Harvey Mackay’s sage observation, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”

I remember, just prior to Covid, I was so busy and overwhelmed with day-job work that I would wish for ‘time to stop’…. just for 24-hours, so I could catch up. But then the Covid lockdown stopped Life for a lot longer than 24-hours. Careful what you wish for!

And when the dreaded alarm-clock shrills us awake, how often do we mumble, “Just five more minutes….”  before we throw off the duvet and embrace a new day.

You can’t stop time. It just keeps going. It’s up to us how we use and value our time.  How many of us would give anything for “Just five more minutes… with lost loved ones?”

How much time do we allow ourselves to read all those waiting books.  How much time is allotted to research, preparation and how much time do we actually sit at our desk or table and write? Publishers work to a very tight schedule or timeline and so give us writers deadlines. Do these deadlines help the writer – or stifle the creativity?


I like a deadline, so I know how much time I have got. Otherwise, my industrious imagination runs wild, meandering endlessly in unruly streams of thoughts this way and that, without the satisfying clicks on the keyboard signifying The End.

And how does time affect what we’re creating?

Do we write about the Now? Or do we travel back and forth in time? Do we use time to show the origins of the story generations before, then switch to today’s update on that history? Several recent books have chapters alternating between yesterday and today.

Time Travel can transport the reader forward into science fiction. Space-age tales with characters speaking in indiscernible utterings, (translated into today’s speech) and visual images of beings unlike anything we know in our world. Writers can let their imaginations soar.

As a writer and a reader, I often prefer going back in time, perhaps, to life a hundred or so years ago. Recreating a world that seems simpler, more real. Where characters discover and react to things we take for granted today. An opportunity for richly drawn characters with colorful colloquialisms.

I’ve read a lot of books set during my parents’ and grandparents’ era of WWI and WWII and learned a greater understanding of what they went through and what they gave up.  A time when ordinary people became heroes, took on enormous challenges, without seeking attention or glory. They just got on with it. The ordinary folk I knew and read about had overcome some amazing challenges.

Victoria Hislop writes superbly researched novels set during the Spanish Civil War in The Return. Sunrise is set in WWII in Greece and The Island, is about Spinalonga, Greece’s former leper colony.  Fascinating journeys back in time, that make us appreciate our freedom and life today.

Big Ben

I’ve been reading about Bletchley Park, in WWII, where ordinary girls were called in to do long hours of top-secret work with the Enigma machines, racing against time to figure out Hitler’s secret enemy codes. The girls were not academic, but chosen because could work out puzzles, crosswords, anagrams. More ordinary, unsung heroes from a time gone by.

I’m working on a ‘timeless’ novel. A mystery. Where I don’t want to specify a time, an era.  Not a hundred years ago, yet not now. I’m figuring how to write the story so that it’s timeless; no cell phones, but also no public phone-boxes, no horse-and-buggy, but no Amtrack. Timeless buses and trains – not steam engines, nor high-speed rail travel, nor Concorde, super-jets, no Southwest Air nor Pan American. Non-specific fashions. It’s a challenge, as it needs to have the right pace, conflict, intrigue, yet nothing that puts the story in a specific time.

The thing is – it’s up to us as to how we use our time. No-one else.  We have choices. That’s a scary, yet empowering thought. Charles Darwin said: “A person who dares to waste one hour of time, of life, has not discovered the value of life.”

………THE END…….file3171299616544


by Jill Amadio

Having celebrated the New Year a few days ago I am still curious about one of its major symbols, Father Time.

Appearing in books, paintings, music, film, television, and even as industry logos, Father Time is often depicted as a character with his murderous scythe and/or an hourglass. Such images have been used to remind a reader that Time is a potential murder weapon with the hours running out for a victim, or signifying an imminent arrest.


It rolls along inexorably despite any means we employ to stop it. But wait! Writers sometimes change Time not only in their fiction but even in non-fiction that one expects to be factual and pure.

How often have you read, “Within three short weeks the memoir was finished.” or “It was the longest hour she had ever spent in his company.” What do these Time phrases mean? What is a short hour, 44 minutes? Or a long year, 15 months? How about this recently published mystery wherein the author blithely bent the passage of Time with: “She knew the hours would pass more quickly if she went to a movie…” How could this be? Obviously, it was her perception in play but seconds, minutes, weeks, months, years, and decades pass at their own pace despite anything we can do to speed it up or slow it down.

In his Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam wrote one of the most dire warnings about Time: “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on. Nor all the piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all they tears wash out a word of it.”   However, a clever writer can give the reader an impression of a faster or slower passage of Time through tension, the building of a scene, or a change in writing style with short sentences, even a single word.

In my favorite, faithful much-thumbed 1,350-page Roget’s International Thesaurus, of which I receive the latest edition every five years as a Christmas gift, there are pages and pages devoted to definitions for Time including Duration, Instantaneousness, Perpetuity, Interim, Anachronism, Infinity, Transience, and, rather oddly, Regularity of Recurrences, and a section devoted to for Previousness (Roget’s heading, not mine, which my Spellcheck rejects), plus many more. In fact, a cornucopia of ways to express how Time moves along at its prescribed pace in any situation and circumstance.

How do we live in borrowed Time – what does that mean? We cannot borrow, stretch, shorten, nor cut Time in its literal sense yet we bandy about this commodity as if it were taffy.

Shakespeare took liberties with Time in dozens of plays and called it a “common arbitrator” and, “a bald cheater’ which I prefer to read in its literal sense although he didn’t intend it that way. The Bard was also the first, I believe, to coin the phrase that Britain’s prime minister, Neville Chamberlain borrowed centuries later when he intoned in 1938 there would be “peace for our time.”

How about this one: ‘Time is of the essence.’ Taken verbatim causes one to wonder, which essence? Frankincense, rose water, or perhaps orange peel?  Or do we wish to convey that Time is urgent? If so, why not say so with description to match the action.

Metaphors are wonderful but sometimes they can convey a meaning that the author did not intend, or missed an opportunity to raise the stakes. How often have you read, “Time and again she pulled on the chain/rope/handcuffs.…”  Would the reader enter into a precise Time frame more personally and feel the victim’s agony and persistence more clearly if the sentence read “after six desperate attempts pulling on the chain, she…

All of which reminds us to remain disciplined because – Time is honestly and truly running out! Do you have a secret method for trying to cheat Time?

Happy New Year, everyone! Do not waste a minute of this brand new year. Write!


Jill Amadio is a mystery writer, novelist, journalist, and ghostwriter. She writes a column for the UK-based Mystery People magazine. Her standalone thriller, “In Terror’s Deadly Clasp,” is based on a true 9/11 story, and her memoir of Virginia Bader chronicles the pioneering of the aviation art movement in America. Amadio co-authored a posthumous biography of the singer Rudy Vallee, and ghostwrote a crime novel. She was a reporter for the Bangkok Post, Gannett Newspapers in New York, and the L.A. Daily News, and has written for Conde Nast, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Motor Trend, Air Classics, and other publications. Her award-winning mystery series features an amateur sleuth from Cornwall, UK, Amadio’s former residence before relocating to California and Connecticut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild. Visit Jill’s Website 

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