Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Letters in the News’ Category

To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

A big thank you to the staff of the White House mail room who selected 10 letters per day for the President to read. Thank you Mr. President for requesting to read these letters daily as soon as you got into office. I appreciate your wanting to connect with “We the people.” Unfortunately, I don’t envision the incoming president doing this. I hope I am wrong.

To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation: Over eight years, through millions of letters, the staff of the White House mailroom read the unfiltered story of a nation.

Dear Madam Secretary

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

A letter a few family members of mine and I sent to Hillary Clinton:

Dear Madam Secretary,

We are the Femocrats, so named because we are, for the most part, the female and liberal arm of a terrific family in the Philly area. We are a writer, a pediatrician, a government worker, a realtor, a retired business executive, an auditor, a school admin professional, a small retail business employee and actor, and a nurse. Some of us are Moms. Two of us are moms with adult special needs children, one of them is Autistic.

All of us are huge supporters of yours. We are stunned and stressed at the result of this election in a way we never expected to feel. We need you to know that we appreciate your service, the way you have handled the intense and undeserved lies and exaggerations thrown your way, we need you to know we appreciate the fight you put up and the class you have shown. We need you to know that we have your back as you have had ours. We need you to know that we defended you and spoke to your exquisite qualifications.

We need you to know that you are our leader, our role model, and that we will endeavor to always go high, even though right now we want to be down in the dirt. We are hurting, we are grieving, we are with you and we thank you with all of our hearts.

The Femocrats
(We signed our names but I wont post them)

If you would like to write Hillary a letter, you can send it here:

Hillary for America
Post Office Box 5256
New York, NY 10185-5256

A Few Things

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

The NY Times did their annual “letter writing is back in style” piece. It includes statistics on how healthy thank-you-note writers are: The Found Art of Thank You Notes

My latest contribution for The Huffington Post: Why Trying to Make a Guy Feel Guilty for Mistreating You Is a Waste of Time

Two lovely students have told me about a research project they are doing on letter writing. Consider filling out their short, anaonymous if you have time.

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!

August 1985

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Reader Jim living in Hong Kong sent me a Washington Post article over the weekend. It was written in August 1985, and the author laments the loss of letter writing compared to the phone call. In August 1985 I was a month shy of my sixth birthday, and it was at least ten years before the Internet came to town. I guess we’ve been scared the letter is going away for a long time, and it has yet to finally go away. Here’s the write up: Letters: Treasures No Call Can Equal. Here are some eloquent points the writer makes:

“On the telephone you talk; in a letter you tell. There is a pace to letter writing and reading that doesn`t come from the telephone company but from our own inner rhythm.”

“There is leisure and emotional luxury in letter-writing. There are no obvious silences to fill anxiously. There are no interruptions to brook. There are no nuances and tones of voice to distract. A letter doesn`t take us by surprise in the middle of dinner, or intrude when we are with other people or ambush us in the midst of other thoughts. It waits. There is a private space for thinking between the give and the take.”

A Modern Idea

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

There was a write-up in the Times. . .not 10 years ago. . .not 5 years ago. . .but rather 5 days ago and it’s called A Stunning, New Social Media Tactic: Handwritten Notes. This article confirms what we letter writers already knew: the letter grows more powerful, because it’s increasingly rare. So keep hand writing. You’ll stand out from the crowd!

Lost in Cyberspace

Monday, April 30th, 2012

In mid-March I was contacted by someone from NPR writing a story about open letters. I’ve been asked to comment on pretty much every type of letter–except that one. I was excited to discuss a different letter genre. I never heard back from the person who contacted me, and I searched on Google to see if the piece had been posted. No luck. Until today! I wasn’t searching for the story but rather trying out a new search engine called DuckDuckGo. It’s a Philly-based site that’s getting a lot of press, so I checked it out. I plugged my name in (who else was I going to search =) and I came across the NPR piece. It’s been out for over a month. Um, Google you’ve been replaced! And here’s the story if you’re interested: An Open Letter … About Open Letters.