Mar 142014

This thing was all over my Facebook feed. Awkward, cute, strange. I watched it, curious about the backstory… who would think to do such a thing? With over 46 million views as of this morning, it’s a viral sensation, capturing a moment of pure… something.

But then things turned a tad curious.

The New York Times best summed up the situation with a story reporting the beautiful, viral vid was, indeed, an ad for a clothing company.

Melissa Coker, 35, the founder and creative director of the clothing company Wren, commissioned the video to showcase her clothing line’s fall collection for’s Video Fashion Week. had created the video series for brands that might lack the financial wherewithal to put on a runway show during Fashion Week.

Did it work? Yup.

Ms. Coker said that there’s been a “significant bump” in sales on Wren’s online store since the video made its debut. And the song accompanying the video, Soko’s “We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow,” sold 10,000 copies in North America on Tuesday and Wednesday. Her album also sold an additional 1,000 copies, said Bryan Ling, the co-president of Community Music, which licensed Soko’s album in North America.

In her defense, there’s this:

And Ms. Coker said that there was no intention of hiding her company’s involvement. The video flashes “Wren presents” at the beginning and also mentions the company in the credits. “There was no part of it where this was a secret,” Ms. Coker said.

So… good? Bad? As a copywriter, I’d say it was rather good. The fact they didn’t hide the branding, to me, makes the project one heck of an effective viral ad effort. The fact people didn’t really notice the whole “Wren Presents” at the beginning makes it an even more interesting case study, considering the jump in sales.

Down side? The people in the vid weren’t “walk off the street” folks. They were evidently models and/or actors. Also, the branding at the beginning of the film? The whole “Wren Presents” thingie? Yeah. It’s on the vid for a very short time. So, it could be construed as a tad misleading.

Either way, I have a hunch we’ll see many more of these in the future. Heck, we’ve even got a parody, giving the original vid even more traction. NSFW, btw:

Additional links:


Interesting quote:

Turns out, at least some of the attractive strangers (why are they always attractive strangers?!) are actually models or actors. Slate has identified a few of them, which makes us feel better knowing that not every person plucked off the street looks like he stepped out of an Urban Outfitters catalog.

WREN Twitter

Wren Fall 14 – First Kiss Video

To celebrate the debut of our Fall 14 collection, we asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time


Interesting quote:

True love is dead and everything is just a cynical plot to extract your money, it emerged today, when the First Kiss video featuring “strangers” making out was found to be just a commercial for an autumn/winter clothing line.

Jan 142014

It’s been a while since I’ve updated. Thing is, life got a bit overwhelming after the cancer diagnosis. I must be feeling better because I’m feeling a bit riled for Lisa Bonchek Adams. Here’s her story:

Lisa Bonchek Adams has Stage IV breast cancer and has been documenting her experience dealing with the disease. She’s tweeting and blogging, sharing the ups and downs, giving her readers a taste of her current life situation.

No big deal, eh? A person writes. Other people can read.

Well, everything changed this week when journalists Bill and Emma Keller decided they didn’t like Lisa’s tweets.

The brouhaha began when Mrs. Keller wrote this:

Lisa Bonchek Adams is dying. She has Stage IV breast cancer and now it’s metastasized to her bones, joints, hips, spine, liver and lungs. She’s in terrible pain. She knows there is no cure, and she wants you to know all about what she is going through. Adams is dying out loud. On her blog and, especially, on Twitter.

“Dying out loud.” I’m not sure I’d describe Lisa’s activity as such, but to each their own…

Are those of us who’ve been drawn into her story going to remember a dying woman’s courage, or are we hooked on a narrative where the stakes are the highest?

Will our memories be the ones she wants? What is the appeal of watching someone trying to stay alive? Is this the new way of death? You can put a “no visitors sign” on the door of your hospital room, but you welcome the world into your orbit and describe every last Fentanyl patch. Would we, the readers, be more dignified if we turned away? Or is this part of the human experience?

From Mr. Keller:

In October 2012 I wrote about my father-in-law’s death from cancer in a British hospital. There, more routinely than in the United States, patients are offered the option of being unplugged from everything except pain killers and allowed to slip peacefully from life. His death seemed to me a humane and honorable alternative to the frantic medical trench warfare that often makes an expensive misery of death in America.

And this:

Her digital presence is no doubt a comfort to many of her followers. On the other hand, as cancer experts I consulted pointed out, Adams is the standard-bearer for an approach to cancer that honors the warrior, that may raise false hopes, and that, implicitly, seems to peg patients like my father-in-law as failures.

Steven Goodman, an associate dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, said he cringes at the combat metaphor, because it suggests that those who choose not to spend their final days in battle, using every weapon in the high-tech medical arsenal, lack character or willpower.

Now… as someone who has intimate knowledge of this whole cancer thing, I suppose I have a tiny opinion on this situation:

Nobody should tell Lisa how to deal with her cancer. Period.

If she wants to tweet, let her tweet in peace.

I’ve discovered there is a TON of misinformation about cancer floating around the Internet. For Lisa to peel away some of the mystery is likely a good thing. After my diagnosis, I searched high and low for even one tiny, reliable shred of usable, readable information and what I found was a ton of quackery.

I found a dude named Chris who used a crazy raw food diet to beat his colon cancer (funny thing is that he had surgery to remove a good portion of his large intestine after his diagnosis). I found a woman named Chris whose diet consists of all organic plant foods who “stopped” her cancer in its tracks. Only thing is she has a super-stable version of her cancer that likely won’t do anything for at least 15 years. Of course, both of these people are selling “make your body cancer-proof” information.

Then I found a woman named Jan who is raising money to pay for her alternative cancer treatment. Updates are sparse and discouraging. I have a hunch her blog will simply disappear.

Personally, I decided to not write about my cancer much. It’s simply too overwhelming. I can’t seem to put into words the incredible mind f*ck this disease is.

Which brings me back to Lisa. A part of me mourns that a large portion of our world can’t seem to handle the rougher realities of life. Another part of me gives her a tremendous high five for demystifying her treatment. I’m thrilled people are talking about this, perhaps quietly deciding what they’d do if/when they find themselves in a similar situation.

Either way, the decision as to whether she tweets, blogs, and Facebooks should be hers and hers alone. That said, Kellers are certainly welcome to their opinion. However, if they don’t like her tweets, perhaps they should remove themselves from her feed rather than make a difficult situation even worse.

More information:

From CBC

New Yorker

Oct 082013

Summer’s basically over

I’ve gotta say, summer 2013 was pretty bad. Gitting hit with cancer surgery first thing out of the chute really put a crimp in any plans I may have had.

But the silver lining is that through it all, I was somehow able to hobble around town with the two pups. And oh, aren’t they gorgeous.

Jake the Min Pin turned 13. It’s hard to get him to slow down enough to snap a pic, but I managed to nab this one.




Rudie the Doxie Cross is now seven years old. I remember the day she came to live with us, she was the tiniest little girl I’d ever met. Her sweet nature makes her one of the nicest canines who has ever lived with us.

It’s tough to watch their faces turn white. The silver fur has begun to creep from their faces, down their spine. But with each new color change comes a new dimension to their continually developing personalities.


I like my dogs.


Sep 182013

I’ve been feeling better (thanks for all your kind wishes) and have spent some substantial time in the office this week. Feels GOOD!

First in the queue is this:









Fun, eh? This is a project I’ve been working on for the last year as I’ve detailed all the yummy, heart healthy treats my family and I enjoy on special occasions. I’m pretty thrilled with how this is turning out and KUDOs to Janet Scott Photography for the awesome pics. She did a fabulous job.

Watch for its release very soon. :)

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Jul 302013

Hey, Plant Based Chef readers:

I’m combining PBC and my personal blog. After my cancer diagnosis, I’ve felt the need to streamline writing projects and after much consideration, I decided as much as I love developing recipes, my first love is writing. Turns out, I have a lot to say about the state of nutritional research, the big promises made by big players in the field, scientific evidence, and some realities when it comes to health and wellness.

BTW, we’re still living a plant based life. It seems to kick butt when it comes to heart disease and weight loss. As for cancer? Evidence (particularly in my case) is a bit murkier.

So, if you’re a Plant Based Chef reader… welcome. I hope you’ll visit often as I plan on posting my creations here.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, thanks for sticking with me. I plan on posting far more regularly considering I won’t have to split my time between so many projects.

Glad you’re here, thanks for stopping by.

Beth :)

Jul 082013

Under the Cuckoo Clock author Maryjo Faith  Morgan mentioned the latest issue of Writing Etc. in her column. VERY cool. She writes:

I love writers’ critique groups. Love the synergy, love the connections with others who love the craft of writing the way I do.

I also enjoy getting newsletters from writing coaches, writers markets and publishing companies. Got one this week – an extremely well-written  first person account by Beth Erickson of Filbert Publishing. Knocked my socks off!

Again… very cool. I’m humbled and appreciative to know she found my sad colon cancer story inspirational enough to trigger a desire to write more. That’s exactly what I hoped would happen.

Be sure to click the link and read all her thoughts on the subject. Feel free to comment, if you’d like. She’s an awesome person. :)


Jul 052013

Things should be getting back to normal very soon. I’m kinda/sorta back to work, but have noticed my stamina isn’t completely back to normal. I visited my oncologist for the first time and learned a couple things about my cancer.

  1. It was very slow growing; that was a good thing. They got it all; very good. My prognosis is bright; excellent.
  2. He said the tumor was inside me for a “very long time.” This means that while I ate what’s called a “vegan” diet for six years (not real healthy, lots of junk, etc.) immediately after my husband’s heart attack, the last four years of eating a healthy plant based, heart healthy diet likely had a little to no effect on the tumor. If anything it may have slowed it down a bit, but today we don’t know. Research isn’t exactly precise concerning this.
  3. Every doc and RD I’ve spoken with has heartily endorsed this way of eating as a way of both recovering and preventing this from happening again. However, they caution nothing is 100 percent certain.
  4. I will be monitored closely for quite a while, looking for new tumor growth and such. Guess I’m my own science project.

I think this all sounds reasonable. The docs have answered many of my questions and I’m looking forward to a healthy recovery and (hopefully) a long life. I appreciate all your kind messages and am already tapping away, experimenting with some fun recipes. I’m looking forward to posting some new concoctions!

Onward and upward,

Beth :)

Jun 202013

On May 27, I went kicking and screaming to my very first colonoscopy.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I got roped into my first physical in, er, MANY years. And woof, it was a doozie. The doc knew I’m a fairly bad patient and wouldn’t be back for at least a decade so he threw the book at me. I had every test known to human kind and to my delight, all the reports were coming back stellar.

When he said I could do my colonoscopy immediately or wait. I said I’d wait. Then he said, “No problem. We’ll have to redo your physical again, but that won’t be a problem. I’m up for another round.” Then he added, “We always need a physical before we can do the colonoscopy.”

I felt hoodwinked. So, simply to avoid another useless physical, I consented to the procedure.

Having passed every prior medical test, and exceedingly cranky from the colonoscopy “prep,” the last words I said to the doc before the procedure were, “This is a waste of time. Such bullsh*t.”

When I awoke, I knew something was amiss. First, nobody offered me orange juice. They promised me orange juice (I felt famished and dehydrated). Worse yet, everyone looked at me odd. Finally the doc came out and informed me he found a large malignant mass. I was scheduled for immediate emergency surgery.

Surgery didn’t go well and they wound up slicing a huge gash into my abdomen.

The good news is all the pathology is in and tumor was literally within millimeters of breaching the large intestine and entering my abdomen. For the geeks out there, my tumor was a mild variety, stage two, “T3 N0 M0.” I will not need chemo or radiation. They got it all.

So… I spent the last few weeks hopped up on Vicodin and after three weeks am finally feeling somewhat “normal.” A couple days ago, the surgeon removed all my staples and replaced them with some lovely strips.

My belly looks like a war zone.

My point? (I always have one.)

I remember one evening in the hospital. I laid there listening to my husband snoring as he attempted to sleep on the plastic couch. My hands continually shook for no apparent reason. I pondered how the Hospitalist informed me that I’d likely experience premature menopause due to the tumor removal. Earlier that day, an infection blossomed in my wound causing continual drainage. I recently discovered I gained four pounds in 24 hours eating nothing but a couple saltines and one glass of apple juice. The words “ostomy bag” entered conversations far more often than I liked. I felt gross, imagining all the other inconveniences this new life episode would generate. I felt so depressed, I supposed surgeon removed my ability (or desire) to write when he removed the tumor. Knowing I now had two fewer feet of colon, I felt profoundly sorry for myself.

Then the nurse entered my room to take vitals and said, “Do you realize how lucky you are?” She continued, “You knew you had cancer for less than 24 hours and you’re already considered in remission. They got it all. It didn’t spread.” As she changed my bandages, she continued, “Sure, you have a nasty incision. This infection is bad, too. But you were in pretty good shape before the surgery and are making remarkable progress. You’ll get better fast. Also, can you imagine how bad you’d feel trying to recover while dealing with chemotherapy?”

A tear dripped down my cheek.

“And look at that man on the couch,” she continued, “He hasn’t left your side. You’ve got a mountain of flowers over there. You’ve got your health. You’ve got tremendous family support. You’re young. You’re the luckiest person here.”

While I didn’t really appreciate her sentiments at that particular moment, I could hang on to her words long enough to get through the next day as well as the next.

Which brings me to today.

Everyone writes for various reasons. Some write to make money. Some write for self expression. Some write for the glory (ha). Then there are people like me who write because they’re writers. Personally, I can’t do anything else. I write as easily as I breathe… and one thing I learned after this experience, breathing isn’t always easy.

Docs said my tumor would have been inoperable in two years. I would have been dead in five. I had no idea I had this thing growing in me. No symptoms. No clues. Nothing.

I may sound like a cliché here, but here’s my big point: Write. Do it. Do it now.

None of us know how many days we’re privileged to walk this planet because in one instant, your life can change forever.

Me? I’m recovering. My priorities (my Polaris, for you who have my Advice to Freelancers series) are more clear than they’ve ever been.

I suppose that’s one of the gifts I take from this experience. After all, there is a gift in every event. Sometimes you have to dig pretty deep to find it, though.

Wishing you the very best,


May 292013

According to The Verge, the answer may be “yes.” The reason, according to the article, is that recently, Barnes and Noble have essentially hosted multiple “fire sales,” each offering various discounts to apparently move more Nooks.

The discounts on Nook Media hardware and content, coming as they do the month after Barnes & Noble reported an 8.8 percent revenue drop and 2.2 percent decline in sales of Nook products from last year, doesn’t seem to be a show of faith in Nook’s future prospects. Meanwhile, parent company Barnes & Noble, which still owns the majority stake in the subsidiary (78.2 percent), also saw its retail sales drop even more precipitously and is also moving to close more stores, the latter which it says is simply business as usual. That hasn’t stopped a flurry of reports speculating that a major shakeup is looming for Barnes & Noble and Nook in the near future, perhaps that the parent company could go out of business or sell itself to another chain such as Walmart.

Interesting. I didn’t know Walmart was still eying B&N.

Either way, the future of B&N is shaky, so of course the future of Nook is shaky. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.