Samara O'Shea

Archive for June, 2009

Alice Hoffman Should Have Hired me to Write Her Apology

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Author Alice Hoffman has issued an apology to Roberta Silman—the reviewer she attacked via Twitter (full story is two blogs below). And here it is:

“I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion. Of course I was dismayed by Roberta Silman’s review which gave away the plot of the novel, and in the heat of the moment I responded strongly and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that’s the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m truly sorry if I did.”

Let’s focus on these words: I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I’m sorry, publishing someone’s phone number is a deliberate act of cruelty. The only reason to do such a thing is to invite others to harass that person. This was the most offensive of Ms. Hoffman’s Tweets: “If you want to tell Roberta Silman off her phone is 999-9999. Tell her what u think of snarky critics.” That looks like a premeditated plan to hurt someone to me. And, of course, Alice is free to make her mistake and recognize it later. But that needs to be acknowledged in the apology.

An apology, by its nature, needs to focus on what you (the doer) did wrong, and what steps you are taking to make the situation right—the apology itself being the most important step. This involves coming clean about what you were thinking/feeling at the time and how you could have handled the situation better. Alice’s apology first blames an omniscient presence for blowing the situation out of proportion and then goes on to mention what Roberta did wrong (giving away the book’s plot). She apologizes to her readers (because she wants to keep them) and forgets to apologize directly to Roberta. It’s true, the situation was blown out of proportion—by Alice. Had she not tweeted so drastically, this would not have been news.

If Alice had hired a letter writer—like oh say, me—then the apology would have gone something like this:

I am overwhelmed and embarrassed by my actions, and I have no one to blame for the situation except myself. I would like to extend a public and sincere apology to my readers and directly to Roberta Silman for my instant and inappropriate reaction to her review of my book The Story Sisters. I’ve been fortunate in my career not to have received many bad or even skewed reviews of my books. Regrettably, this hasn’t done much in the way of thickening my skin and preparing me for the reality that not everyone is destine to be a fan. Roberta was the victim of my inexperience or—perhaps more accurately—my unwillingness to accept this simple truth.

It goes without saying that the review was a blow to my ego, and I got angry. I didn’t hesitate to react. Instead of calling a friend and complaining or going for a long walk, I headed straight for Twitter—hoping to garner some sympathy and support from my readers. This was unwise for several reasons. The two main reasons: 1. Twitter is a public forum
2. Writing for an audience only fueled my anger. My frustration climaxed when I saw fit to publish Roberta’s e-mail address and phone number. I did this because I wanted people to write and call her to make her feel as bad as the review made me feel. That was the most regrettable of my actions, and I am truly sorry. I am also sorry that I called her credentials into question without doing any research. Roberta stands atop a remarkable literary career, and she should be very proud of all that she has accomplished.

Roberta, you are entitled to your own opinion as a reviewer and as a citizen. The better part of me knows this, and I apologize that the worse part of me got to my computer first. I have shut down my Twitter account in an attempt to remedy my actions. I hope that the shame I feel is a consolation to you. I wish you well in all future endeavors.

With sincerity and chagrin,

The Soap Opera Continues: Apparently, Alice was once the victim of an author’s rage when she wrote a bad review.

It’s the End of the Post Office as We Know It

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Could your post office be closing?

Keep Your Anger Offline

Monday, June 29th, 2009

It’s official. I’m addicted to blogging. I thought I could tone it down for a few days, but it’s proving to be difficult. (In my own defense: it’s difficult not to blog when I’m sitting in front of a computer. When I’m breathing the fresh air, the desire goes away completely.)

Remember when I blogged (or re-blogged the NY Times) about anger on Friday (two blogs down). Well, author Alice Hoffman demonstrates why it’s better to go for a run than for your computer when you’re angry. Thank you Gawker for capturing a few gloriously psycho tweets.

Sorta related: I just discovered (and I’m probably the last to know) about Tweleted. The Web site that recovers any tweets that you delete. So far, I’ve only deleted a few tweets for grammatical errors. I have yet to do it because of a change of heart or opinion. Word to the wise: Think your tweets through very carefully!

Breaking News: Thank You Notes

Monday, June 29th, 2009

A shout out to Andrea who sent me the link to the SF Chronicle article about thank you notes: Are thank-you notes passe in the e-mail age? It never ceases to amaze me that every six months or so an article about thank you notes will pop up—begging the question Have they gone away? The answer is always no. I can say this based entirely on the fact that the stationery industry is alive and when. We can worry about letters when people stop buying paper. I have yet to see the drug store that’s done away with its greeting-card section. I think we letter lovers will be okay for a little longer.

The writer of the article, Jen Burke Anderson, laments that she’s written many thank you notes lately and no one has given her a response. My response to that would be that you don’t need to get a thank you if you give a thank you. The original gift was enough. Of course you can e-mail / text Thanks for the note. But it’s not necessary. I’ve also had people thank me years later for letters I’ve written, so just because you don’t get an instant response doesn’t mean you won’t get one eventually. The years-later response is better, too, because it means what you wrote stood out enough for them to remember it all this time. In the article, Lizzie Post (great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post) had a similar reaction. “Don’t write a thank-you to get a response; write one to really thank somebody.” Exactly!

FYI: This is going to be a slow blogging week for me. I’m finishing a book proposal and getting ready to go away for the long weekend. I’m sure I’ll have some insights, but they might be on the short side. . .

Life is lonely when you are always right

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Insightful Times piece about anger and how getting angry does no good to one’s mental or physical health. It focuses on anger that fuels revenge. I struggle with this—thinking sometimes that it is my job to teach people a lesson. Even if revenge is successfully executed, the other person seldom thinks Oh wow, I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that. They just get angry themselves, and it’s a never-ending cycle of revenge and fury. Letting it go is so much harder and so much better.

Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009

Friday, June 26th, 2009

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.”
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Electronically Sealed with a Kiss

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I love when this happens. I’m worried that I have nothing to blog about and then a story just falls in my lap. Today The State—South Carolina’s largest newspaper—published e-mails written back and forth between Governor Sanford and his Argentinean mistress. I must say I’m moved and a little turn on. The man can write! I’ve pulled two excerpts to include here, but be sure to read them in their entirety.

I must also give The State credit. They received the e-mails anonymously back in December but did not publish them because they were unable to authenticate them. That’s exactly what journalism is for! Finding and VERIFYING the facts first—telling the public second. And now that the confession has been made, the letters are the icing on top of the scandalous cake. And how sweet they are!

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 00:24:54 -0400

Two, mutual feelings …. You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light – but hey, that would be going into sexual details …

Lastly I also suspect I feel a little vulnerable because this is ground I have never certainly never covered before – so if you have pearls of wisdom on how we figure all this out please let me know… In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul.