Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

A friend of mine e-mailed me a week or so ago in panic mode. He wrote, “You need to call a lawyer regarding the movie Her. They are using your letter-writing site idea!” Two things happened when I read the message:

1. I appreciated his concern but didn’t think lawyering up–especially against a movie studio–was within my right or resources.
2. I was excited to know that there’s a professional letter-writer in a popular movie.

The reason I didn’t think it was within my right is because “letter writer” isn’t an original profession. They’re not common anymore, but they have existed for ages. I also don’t doubt that other people have at least thought about creating letter-writing websites on their own–without hearing about mine. It’s an idea who’s originality would be difficult to prove.

Shortly thereafter, another friend got in touch to tell me about Her. He happens to be a lawyer and I asked him to break down if I had a case or not. He said:

“The mere providing of a letter writing service is not something that can be patented, trademarked or copyrighted. It is, pardon the comparison, like being an accountant or a technical writer. Now the contents of the letters, the name of your service and your trade dress and trademarks can be protected, but not the idea of writing letters on behalf of individuals.”

Seems pretty cut and dry.

In his review of Her, Philadelphia Inquire movie critic Steven Rea said the idea of an online letter-writing service is one “whose time has come.” I tweeted him to let him know I had been all over it for years. No word back.

As you may have noticed, this site has been updated and the letter-writing service is now gone. Although there’s still a page paying tribute to my one-time service and letter writing itself. I am and always will be glad that I acted on my instinct and brought my silly idea to life. I hope others–whether inspired by me or Her–see fit to do the same!

Justin Timberlake Teaches an Unrequited Love Lesson

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Another day, another blog, another excerpt from Loves Me…Not–this one comes complete with a photo of Justin Timberlake…

Transform Your Holiday Cards Into Something Actually Useful

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

I was interviewed for a little ditty on holiday cards for Men’s Health also got into touch with me recently for a short piece they’re doing on writing love letters. As we’ve suspected all along, people are still writing letters!

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Heard…Is True

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

I had a chance to write a guest blog (with the above-mentioned title) for a fantastic site that covers all things indie book publishing related called Stop by if you have a moment.

This Movie is Brought to You by Adolescent Angst

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

I’ve mentioned my friend Dave and his project Mortified before. I’m thrilled to announce that Mortified has been made into a movie called Mortified Nation. This movie is made possible by people willing to pull out the diaries they kept as teenagers and share. What brave souls! Enjoy the preview…

Passing the Torch

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

A few days after my most recent blog, that declared it’s time for me to end the letter-writing service, I received this e-mail:

I came across your website while researching whether services like the one you provide, or at least used to have the time to provide, existed. For a little bit of my background, I am a 25 year old attorney in New York City with a passion for love and the feelings it inspires. I believe myself to be a romantic. I believe that there is no greater power in this world then love and the way it imposes its power upon all of those subject to it. I sit at work and jot down all of the things I want my girlfriend to know about how I feel about her, and I wonder whether others want to do the same but do not know how to express it. I love what you created and quite honestly when I saw that you discontinued it for your further educational advancements, I immediately thought that it must be continued. So in this rather hastily written email, I suppose I am trying to make an offer to continue doing what you once did.

How fun is this?! We agreed that he will launch his own site, so readers can familiarize themselves with his writing style, and I will gladly promote the site and link to it on my “Order a Letter” page. Of course, this will take some time. I know what it’s like to launch a site with a full time job, and his job–as an attorney–is incredibly demanding I’m sure. This is to say, I’m not expecting a quick turnaround, but I’m excited that he’s offering to carry the letter-writing torch and I had to share. Anyone else want to be a letter writer? I’ll promote you, too. The more the merrier!

The Man Who Threw Away My Book

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

I received a letter recently from a man in Texas who said he enjoyed reading For the Love of Letters very much and then he threw it away.

He wrote, “My fear is that if I place it proudly amongst my other books a child interested in starting a pen pal relationship will find it and be defiled. . .explaining the finer points of copulation is not something I will allow this book to require of me. So as this copy sadly goes into the trash bin would you consider editing the offending sections of your book?”

Mr. Lone Star State, I take no offense at your getting rid of the book if that’s what you feel the need to do, and I’m sorry that the material caught you off guard. The book’s original subtitle was “A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing from the Elegant to the Erotic.” I didn’t want the fact that there’s suggestive material inside to be a secret at all.

When it came time to publish, however, the marketing team wanted to remove the word “erotic” from the title so they could sell the book in gift stores like Papyrus and Kate’s Paperie. I said, “That’s all well and good but the material itself will still be there. What happens if someone buys this for grandma?”

The compromise was to the put the words “The Essentials of Letter Writing–from the Elegant to the Erotic” on the back cover. But who looks at the back cover? I knew the situation described by my friend above would be inevitable.

As far as removing the offending sections of my book–I have no intention of doing that. First of all, I can’t. Maybe Stephen King can call a publisher, tell them to remove a chapter and then reprint the book, but I cannot. Also, while I wish there were a warning on the book’s front cover, I intentionally included sexual material and I don’t take it back. My own writing aside, the James Joyce letters were an amazing find.

Part of my interest in letter writing is my interest in the history of human experience. To read a letter written hundreds or thousands of years ago and be able to identify with what’s being said is extraordinary. Since sex has been part of the human agenda as long as breathing has, it’s an important aspect of our being. I also believe letters can capture and enhance the present day human understanding—sexual adventures obviously included.

At the end of the letter, Mr. Texas went back to saying what he liked about the book. He wrote, “I especially appreciate your explanation of your name’s pronunciation,” and he added a Bible verse: Proverbs 22:1. I was afraid to look up the verse—fearing it would tell me I’m going to Hell. Quite the opposite as it turned out. It’s a lovely verse to conclude a lovely letter. This is solid evidence that people can be polite and civil even when they disagree.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” ~ Proverbs 22:1