Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘All Things Digital’ Category

Kindle & Me

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Kindle terrified me when it first came out. I called my agent in panic mode, “Is this the end of books?!” I have since calmed down. Mainly because I don’t think books are going to go away as quickly as records, cassette tapes, and CDs. Music is sound and it doesn’t matter where the sound is coming from. Books are a bit different. People (myself included) love the book experience—dog-earring pages, underlining passages, putting a book on a shelf where someone will see it and say “Oh I read War and Peace, too.”

In addition to still loving books, however, I have warmed up to the idea of the Kindle. I don’t own one, but I’ve seen them around and they don’t bite. If someone prefers to read an electronic screen that’s fine by me. Hey, I read the NY Times online and rarely hold it in my hands. It’s all about preference. The thing about Kindle that appeals to me the most is having a stack of heavy books in one small carrying case.

Yesterday, Kindle endeared itself to me even more when I saw my digitally-blessed books. My sister’s boyfriend bought her a Kindle a few months ago and she’s just getting around to using it. Like any good sister, she purchased my books once she figured out how. I’ll admit I had a moment of pride. It wasn’t the same as holding my hardbound for the first time, but I was excited nonetheless. I’m glad the people who prefer Kindle can access my work—should they choose. What matters most is the words are exactly the same.

A few pics:

The pink-covered Kindle.

The first page of For the Love of Letters. Available on Kindle.

The first page of Note to Self. Also available on Kindle.

What to do with my Social Media Accounts in the Event of my Untimely Death

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Happy May! Check out my latest Huffington Post blog. It’s one part ridiculous one part legitimate concern.

Ease Into E-mail

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Stop by my latest blog for Tranquility Du Jour. It’s a little ditty about ignoring e-mail for the first hour of everyday.

Monday Musings

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Monday: Hello, Gorgeous! If every Monday looked like this dazzling day, I would anticipate it with vim and vigor. I hope your week is off to an equally optimistic, sunny start. Below you shall find my random thoughts accumulated over the past few days. If you’re looking for a common thread, there isn’t one really. Just a few things that I have encountered or that have occurred to me:

Don’t Take Anything Personally – I aspire toward this frame of mind more and more each day. It’ll take a while to get there, I’m sure—especially after 30 years of being heavily influenced by everyone else. I came across this quote last week, and it convinced me further of the freedom that will come with not taking anything personally:

This is from the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one you live in. Taking things personally makes you easy prey for those predators who try to send you emotional poison. They can hook you easily with one little opinion, and feed you all their emotional garbage. When you take it personally, you eat it up, and now it becomes your garbage. But if you don’t take it personally, you are immune to their poison; you will not eat it. Immunity to emotional poison is the gift of this agreement.”

Letter Writing – President Obama is a man after my own heart. He reads ten letters each day from the American people, and—sometimes!—he responds. Check out the story here.

Social Media – I am endlessly interested in the way our emotions manifest themselves with regards to social media. Looks like I’m not the only one: The Washington Post featured an article last week called Google and Facebook raise new issues for therapists and their clients. Do they ever!

The Wizard of Oz – I am only now appreciating how profound this conversation actually is:

Glinda, the Good Witch of the North: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

Dorothy: I have?

The Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?

Glinda, the Good Witch of the North: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

I Forgot to Wish Everyone a Happy Bastille Day

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Just discovered this. A writer can’t sell his novel so he releases it . . . on Twitter. Clever. He got the NYTimes to cover him, but I’m not patient enough to read a book that way. Are you? [This novel is entitled The French Revolution, which is why it has anything to do with Bastille Day.]

The World Outside My Head

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I’ve been writing in my journal for most of the morning. Well, more like turning to it every fifteen-twenty minutes. I was tempted to tell the story of what has me writing like a fiend and then post the series of gunshot entries, but now I fear I might regret that later. I’ll wait until it’s not so fresh a wound and see how I feel about making it public.

In the meantime, two news stories have me smiling today:

1. The Episcopal Church (of which I am a proud member) is motioning toward banning the ban on gay bishops.

2. Barack Obama does it again—faces a potentially embarrassing situation and carries on like a pro that is! One of his teleprompters fell to the floor mid speech.

This story doesn’t make me smile necessarily, but makes me think: It’s a round up on the morality of text messaging. Personally, I say “No texting at the dinner table!”

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.