Friday, July 17, 2015


I don’t know about you but I'd rather not have to label my writing. 

If literary labeling needs to be done at all, (and, apart from broad categories like FICTION and NON-FICTION, I don't think it does) isn't it something for others to do? Like agents, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, readers?

Agents are now classified by genre and books are “genrified” by their covers, blurbs and promotion. Even some publishers are classified by genre. So, by simply choosing an agent, I’m labeling my work. And, by labeling my work I'm making an unwanted mission-statement and writing for a limited audience.

Labels are limiting and they often dumb-down for age and gender. Gender genres like “women’s fiction”, “romance” and “thriller”, can prevent readers from branching out and reading more eclectically. By the way, in the absence of the genre “Men’s Fiction”, should we assume that all good fiction is "Men's Fiction?  

Literary labels are supposedly a guide for readers but aren’t they more of a marketing tool for publishers? Here’s a chat by Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro on the subject. 

Everything today seems to need a label, a mission statement or a sub-title. The better to sell it. People even subtitle life itself these days by muttering "awkward" during a pause in conversation. I think this comes from TV and movies which is another "genre". Many writers write with a movie deal in mind.

Writing for a "genre" must surely discourage unique voices. We’re told “voice is everything” but if your “voice” doesn’t fit a genre will anybody hear it?

Is literature considered a genre? Is any book with big words and deep thoughts literature? Or does the sheer length of a book make it literature? THE GOLDFINCH, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, INFINITE JEST, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX?

Would these classics now have the Young Adult label:
CATCHER IN THE RYE, ROMEO AND JULIET, GREAT EXPECTATIONS? Would MADAME BOVARY be considered “romance”? Would MOBY DICK be a “suspense thriller”? GONE WITH THE WIND: “chick lit”? CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: “crime”?

And how long would we tolerate the concept of GENRE if the English word TYPE/KIND/SORT were used instead? Would we want to be called TYPE WRITERS?


Sunday, July 12, 2015


I recently took my blog off-line to investigate sudden spikes of statistical activity with a 98% bounce rate. 

After going through Google Analytics with a fine-tooth comb, a picture of the shadier side of the web emerged. On one hand, it seems LUMIÈRE is a very popular name in Japan and China for some reason and there were visits from LUMIÈRE hotels, wineries and global markets in Japan and a cinema investment company in China.

On the other hand there was some phishing from fake Russian banks (worrying) but mostly the spikes were caused by REFERRER SPAM bots impersonating a referral link. This pseudo traffic is designed to make their domain show up in your site analytics so that you’ll visit their site.

By far the most referrer spam my blog gets is from “not set” which  GA’s map indicates is in Nigeria (again, worrying) and from Russia. All these referrers skew GA data so you have no idea how much genuine traffic your blog is getting. Some of these bots can install porn, viruses or malware URLs on your blog if your security isn't tight. They can also make you blog look spammy and cause Google to demote its ranking.

You may be familiar with this problem but if, like me, you had no idea this stuff existed, you can find out if you have unwanted referrers by going to GA>traffic>referrals. There’s not much point in listing them as they change constantly. The most long-lasting and problematic one seems to be SEMALT in various iterations. The most prolific on my blog currently are variations of: trafficmonetize, 4webmasters, event-tracking, free-social-buttons, floating-share-buttons.

Here’s a helpful link that will explain what referrer spam is and how to quickly filter it out of your Blogger and WordPress blogs.

And by the way, these referrers are not contagious. Legitimate readers can visit my secure blog in complete safety.