Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Letter Issues’ Category

The Foreseeable Future

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

I had every intention of blogging more regularly when I last wrote in July…then my summer class began and I wondered what I was thinking. Summer classes are accelerated—six weeks instead of twelve. Alas, I continue to enjoy school and, as a result, blogging will continue to be sporadic. I do plan to take reader Anna’s excellent advice and turn a section or two that didn’t make it into the book into a blog post. There is one large section that we cut, and I’m hoping to whittle it down and submit it to The Huffington Post.

The one thing that I now know I must stop, unfortunately, is the letter-writing service. For the firts half of the year I had an away message sent to anyone requesting a letter that said something like, “Taking a break…be back in June.” June became July. July is now August and I know it’s something I won’t have time to do for the foreseeable future. I am so glad that I did do it and continue to be amazed that people trusted me with their stories. Being a therapist really began for me when I was hearing those personal tales and writing those letters. I am sad to stop. This is the response letter requesters will now receive:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting LetterLover. I have been blessed with the opportunity to write letters on behalf of others for eight years. Unfortunately, it is time to close up shop. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree and getting ready to promote my next book (out in February 2014). I cannot dedicate myself to this wonderful craft the way I once did. I hope that you will still write and send the letter you had planned to ask for my help with. The recipient will surely appreciate your effort!

I may re-start my services someday, but at this point I cannot tell when that might be. I am grateful that you stopped by and wish you all the best.

Warmest regards,

Spring and a Small Scandal

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Welcome to the glorious transitional season of spring. She did us a favor (in the northeast anyway) and came early. While looking for an appropriate poem for today, I happened upon this prayer said during a Pagan Spring Equinox ritual. It’s quite lovely.

“We kindle this fire today
In presence of the Holy Ones,
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
Without fear of aught beneath the Sun
But the High Gods.
Thee we invoke, O Light of Life,
Be Thou a bright flame before us,
Be Thou a guiding star above us,
Be Thou a smooth path beneath us;
Kindle Thou within our hearts
A flame of love for our neighbors,
To our foes, to our friends, to our kindred all,
To all men on the broad earth.
O merciful Son of Cerridwen,
From the lowliest thing that liveth
To the Name which is highest of all.”

In other non-seasonal news, Urban Outfitters has quite the greeting card scandal going on. I have a feeling the person who wrote this card knew that trouble was imminent. (Warning: The words on the card are rated R. The card’s appearance, however, is pleasing).

A Friendly Counterargument

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Reader Masa from Baton Rouge sent me a link to this article: Should You Send A Handwritten Or Email Thank You Note After An Interview? The article was written by Jessica Liebman, Managing Editor of Business Insider. She is in charge of editorial hiring and suggests sending thank you notes via e-mail only–don’t waste your time with a hand-written gesture.

I was getting ready to offer my counterargument in the comments section and quickly realized I didn’t have to. The first comment, written by Mike Sprouse, summed it up perfectly. He said:

“Interesting topic, but I actually side the other way pretty vehemently in favor of hand-written notes. I’ve hired hundreds of people, and the hand-written notes always win out, and there’s not one exception. Most likely, I’m not looking to hire someone TOMORROW (just soon). If there’s a candidate I like, I always wait 3-5 days for the mail. Why? Handwritten notes stand out (b/c everyone takes the same tact as you mention – email). Handwritten notes take a whole lot more thought and effort. Plus, the thank you note is not meant to be a dialogue. The dialogue happens before the thank you note, so I’m not interested in having another conversation at that point necessarily. My $.02.”

Well said, Mike! Of course, I’d still like to offer my own thoughts on the matter. Below are Jessica’s points in bold followed by my counter.

“Dangers of the handwritten thank you:

There’s a delay. I’m a firm believer in following up with a thank you note less than 24 hours after the interview, while you’re still fresh in the interviewer’s mind.” – As Mike said, a same-day response isn’t necessary. If the candidate is a memorable one then the interviewer won’t forget about him/her quickly. Also, after reading that person’s resume and meeting with him/her, the hiring manager has thought about that candidate enough for one day. Receiving a letter a day or two later will be a welcome reminder of a promising new hire. Mail the thank you note shortly after you leave the interview and it will arrive in one or two days.

“The letter might never get to your interviewer. It could get lost in the mail, the secretary could throw it out, it could end up in a pile of envelopes that don’t get opened for months.” – A few years back, I e-mailed a cover letter and resume to Philadelphia Style for an editor position. The same day I sent the e-mail, I mailed a short follow-up letter and included my contact information. I figured I already sent one e-mail, why not try a different form of communication for the follow-up. Days later I received an e-mail saying they received my note but had never gotten the initial e-mail (went into the spam file maybe?). I never got a message telling me it was undelivered, so I would have been none the wiser. E-mail does not always get there either.

“It feels old. It’s 2012. Sending a handwritten note just feels ancient to me. Especially if you’re up for a job in the Internet industry. Be current.”– It is 2012, which means everyone opts for e-mail. A hand-written note can help you stand out.

“The chances of the interviewer writing back to you are less. The letter feels more final.” – After the thank you has been dispersed, the next communication should not be a message but rather (ideally) a phone call offering you the job. It is, however, a good idea to include your e-mail at the bottom of the note–in the event that the interviewer does want to write back.

These days, I’m sure there are some executives who might be annoyed with a hand-written thank you, but there are still plenty of people who will appreciate it. Try to assess your audience as best you can. If you were going to interview with Ms. Liebman then you should do your research and discover that she prefers to receive thank you notes via e-mail and accommodate her accordingly.

The Little Post Office that Could

Thursday, August 18th, 2011


It’s starting. The stories about post offices on the brink of close are coming out. Yesterday the adorable blue post office pictured above (the second smallest in the nation) was featured in the New York Times as a likely candidate for close. The article says 3,600 post offices are on the chopping block, but official decisions have yet to be made. It’s a big change that’s coming. The stories, like this one, will be sad. If they do decide to do away with this post office, I hope they turn it into a mini museum. It still has the really old school P.O. Boxes.

Top Ten Letter-Writing Movies

Monday, February 14th, 2011

My latest for the Huffington Post.

Blogger on Blogger

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite bloggers—Jordan Reid. She’s the lovely gal next to me in the NYTimes photo. (Below is a similar photo taken with my camera). Jordan runs a blog called RamshackleGlam. It’s a breezy blog that mixes fun topics—recipes, books, shopping, restaurants, travel—and it’s all tied together with Jordan’s “haphazard take on happiness.”

Just yesterday she added a new feature to her blog: Ramshackle Glam Community. I’m pleased to be one of the first to participate. She has invited her readers to contribute and write about what makes them happy. It’ll come as no surprise to you that I wrote about letter writing. If you have a moment, stop by and read what I wrote, and be sure to look around Jordan’s blog. There’s a little something for everyone! If you have something to contribute, definitely give it a go.


Letter-Writing Booster in the NY Times

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I headed up to NYC on Tuesday night for the launch party of Brides newlywed nest and ended up in the NY Times. Yay! The itself story is about the event and the apartment (as it should be), but that’s definitely me on the right: the letter-writing booster. That’s not exactly how I would describe what I do, but I won’t protest because the picture is good. I somehow managed to match the curtains and the throw pillows.