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Late 2017 Highlights

I’m over-the-moon to announce the National Art Education Association has selected me to receive the 2018 Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award. Looking at the list of previous recipients, which includes Jacqueline Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, and a host of governors, senators, and CEOS, is humbling. I have a deep love and respect for art educators so to receive this nod from them is truly lovely. I see this as recognition of arts-based research and less about my own work. Although the NAEA doesn’t invite acceptance speeches, please know when I accept this award in March I will be doing so on behalf of the arts-based research community.

It’s been an embarrassment of riches as I also learned Research Design has been honored by the 2017 USA Best Book Awards (hosted by American Book Fest) as research-design-cover an “honored finalist” in the category Education/Academic. I wanted to write this book for nearly twenty years. It was a total labor of love and I feel it’s the most important book of my career. I’m thrilled for this recognition. I extend a spirited thank you to the entire team at Guilford Press. They are the best of the best and this book would not be what it is without their talent, time, and generosity.

With lots of travel at the end of the year, Ningbo, China was a highlight I’ll never forget. I was honored to deliver a keynote address at the 6th World Chinese Art Education Symposium. It was an extraordinary experience of pageantry unlike anything I’ve been a part of before. Media lined the giant ballroom as we spoke. There was even a drone flying in the room. I was thrilled to meet with Li, the Chinese publisher for Method Meets Art and grateful to do some media promo in advance of the release. I’m forever grateful to Tihao Zeng, my guide and translator on this journey.
China PL speaking
China media

Despite the highs, this has been an overwhelmingly difficult year for me. I suffered a serious and painful injury to my spine which forced me to cancel a host of book events. I underwent surgery, lifestyle changes, and continue with daily physical therapy. Politically and socially, it’s also been enormously challenging. With so much darkness, I’m more grateful than ever for the rays of light. Wishing you all a peaceful end to 2017 and triumphant 2018.

Love and light,

Privilege Reader!!!

Privilege Through the Looking-Glass is out!!!! This was a collaborative effort all the way. I was absolutely blown away when such incredible scholars and authors agreed to sign on as contributors. I already knew they were brilliant thought leaders, but with this project they also demonstrated courage and vulnerability. I’m in awe of them and deeply grateful for their time and expertise. I’m also especially glad to release Privilege Through the Looking-Glass at this historical moment. Indeed, when we began this project years ago we no way of knowing just how timely the release would be. So many of us in the US and abroad feel we need a path forward and the authors have provided one. privilege-through-the-looking-glass-cover

Privilege Through the Looking-Glass is a collection of original essays that explore privilege and status characteristics in daily life. This collection seeks to make visible that which is often invisible. It seeks to sensitize us to things we have been taught not to see. Privilege, power, oppression, and domination operate in complex and insidious ways, impacting groups and individuals. And yet, these forces that affect our lives so deeply seem to at once operate in plain sight and lurk in the shadows, making them difficult to discern. Like water to a fish, environments are nearly impossible to perceive when we are immersed in them. This book attempts to expose our environments. With engaging and powerful writing, the contributors share their personal stories as a means of connecting the personal and the public. This volume applies an intersectional perspective to explore how race, class, gender, sexuality, education, and ableness converge, creating the basis for privilege and oppression. Privilege Through the Looking-Glass encourages readers to engage in self and social reflection, and can be used in a range of courses in sociology, social work, communication, education, gender studies, and African American studies. Each chapter includes discussion questions and/or activities for further engagement. It can also be read by anyone interested in better understanding their life and the lives of others.

Huge thanks to the team at Sense Publishers for all of their hard work. I’m also thankful to We Are The Real Deal for doing this interview with me about the release:

Please learn more about the book and pick up a copy:

Sense Publishers:

As for me, I’m now able to move forward. This book has allowed me to come full circle. Between Privilege Through the Looking-Glass and Gender & Pop Culture I have chronicled the most important messages in my thirteen-plus years of teaching sociology. This subject is vital in sociology and many other disciplines, as well as society broadly, and I hope professors will teach with it. I plan to devote the rest of my professional life to my art and advancing research methodology (lifelong projects very much about empowerment, power, privilege, knowing, and, light). Can’t wait to share the things I’ll be working on over the next several years. For a little hint, I’ve just signed three book contracts with two publishers all for fiction. I’m so excited about what’s to come.

Love and light,

Handbook Release!!!!!!!!!!

YAY!!!! I’m overjoyed to announce the release of the Handbook of Arts-Based Research. After many years of writing and speaking about ABR, a few years ago, as I wrote the second edition of Method Meets Art, I had time to reflect on how much the field has grown. It seemed like the time for a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, retrospective and prospective review of the field. We’ve been working on the handbook ever since. handbook-arts-based-research-cover

I say we, because this gorgeous collection is the result of a team effort. The contributors absolutely CRUSHED IT! I’m in awe of their talent, wisdom, and generosity. This international group of superstar artist-researchers is pushing the field forward. I’m grateful. My hat is also off to the world-class publishing team at Guilford Press. From copyediting to layout, cover design and marketing, they have honored my vision. I also applaud Guilford Press for continuing to prioritize students and knowledge advancement over profits. The handbook is a whopping 738 pages and priced at less than half the cost of competing handbooks (it costs less than the average 300-page textbook). They set this price without sacrificing quality and production. The handbook is stunning. Finally, I’m indebted to the artist Charles K. Williams (AKA: Charlie Green) for allowing me to use his work for the cover. Choosing the cover art for a handbook about art is daunting. I wanted to support a living artist. As a kid, I fell in love with art in the streets of New York City. To me, there was little difference between what hung on SoHo gallery walls and the graffiti and other street art. I wanted the handbook cover to be a nod to street art, which is necessarily public. Serendipitously, I met Charlie selling his art in the streets of SoHo and fell in love with his sensibility. I picked this particular piece because it reminds me of the street itself. Wrapping the handbook in this art is a statement. Check-out Charlie’s website and Instagram to learn more about his work:


This handbook was such a long-time in the making that I’m overjoyed early reviewers are embracing it. Here are excerpts of a few of the generous endorsements we’ve received.

“Renowned author and editor Leavy has assembled prominent artist-researchers—from educators and therapists to beyond—for this outstanding, innovative handbook. The volume surveys the philosophy and practice of progressive inquiry using literary, performative, and exhibited modalities. Contributors present rich guidance and compelling arguments for the role of ABR alongside more traditional research methods in the exploration of complex social worlds. Like exceptional art, this handbook has magnitude, quality, and significance for researchers and students across multiple disciplines, including the social sciences, education, health care, business, humanities, media, and fine arts.” —Johnny Saldaña, MFA, School of Film, Dance, and Theatre (Emeritus), Arizona State University

“With this handbook, Leavy not only helps to define the field of ABR, but also encourages readers to imagine new ways of conducting and appreciating research. Beautifully rendered chapters describe the emergent, diverse world of artistic inquiry, and balance the conceptual with the practical. The volume guides researchers and students to bring both creativity and vigor to producing works of scholarly art.” —Ronald J. Chenail, PhD, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nova Southeastern University

“Leavy, a champion of ABR, has gathered leading scholars from around the world in this welcome contribution to our rapidly growing field… Traversing scholarly disciplines and art forms, this volume ushers ABR into its own as a new paradigm for research. It is a gift for anyone with a passion for bringing artistry to research.” —Diane Conrad, PhD, Department of Secondary Education (Drama/Theatre Education), University of Alberta, Canada

“…Superb… This is a work that will be read, reread, and referenced often, and that will help academics of all types understand and explain clearly to others how art can work to combine both ‘formula’ (that is, research analysis) and ‘soul.’ —David A. Almeida, EdD, Department of Special Education, Bridgewater State University, Massachusetts

If you’re interested in the handbook, pick up a copy or learn more:

Handbook of Arts-Based Research on Amazon:
Handbook of Arts-Based Research at The Guilford Press (15% & free shipping in North America):

I hope that artists, methodologists, and researchers across the disciplines will pick up a copy for personal use. I think this is the kind of reference you will pull from your bookshelf time and again. I know I will. I also hope professors will ask their libraries to order a copy and will consider if for their own courses. I’m enormously grateful to everyone who labored on this one-of-a-kind collection. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Here’s a piece I wrote called, “A Love Letter to the Arts” which expresses my love of art, fears and hopes, and gratitude to be a part of a “gang of beauty bandits”:

I’m also honored to be Routledge UK’s Spotlight Author for Autumn (Guilford’s European distributor). Please check-out the exclusive interview I did with them about the Handbook of Arts-Based Research. For best viewing, click on the US flag in the top right corner and change to the UK flag.

As for what’s next, I’ve done several interviews about the handbook. I’ll share these on social media as they’re released. Now it’s time to crawl back into my creative writing hole. We need to do ABR if we are to understand its value. I’m currently working on a novel that’s quite special to me. It’s a new genre for me (sort of an adventure), so it’s a challenge too. I love a new challenge. I look forward to sharing more details down the line. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of your support.

Love and light,


Wow!!! I’m humbled and overjoyed to learn that Research Design has been certified as an Instant Bestseller. I originally had the idea for this book more than twenty years ago when I was an undergrad. The idea lived and matured in me for a long time. I consider this book my greatest professional achievement. I truly hope it is of value to professors, students, and researchers. I extend my deep appreciation to the entire team at Guilford Press for their exemplary work. Research Design is beautifully produced. I’m also enormously grateful to early readers who have picked up a copy and professors who are considering it for their courses. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To celebrate this milestone I held a raffle on my Facebook page and ultimately gave one lucky winner signed copies of Research Design and Method Meets Art. To continue the celebration, Guilford Press is happy to offer 25% off ALL of my Guilford titles (includes free shipping in the US & Canada). Please take advantage. Use promo code AF25PL (valid through Sept. 1).
Research Design:
My Guilford Titles:

On a personal level, this wonderful embrace by early readers is especially meaningful to me because I’ve had a difficult year. I was truly devastated this spring to cancel all of my book events for Research Design when I needed to undergo surgery on my spine. I’m doing well now and can’t overstate how much I appreciate your support. When I was dealing with my health, I did have a chance to do a couple of interviews about Research Design and I’m happy to share those here:

My thanks to these outlets for being will to have conversations about contemporary knowledge-building practices and for supporting this work. As I said in one of the interviews, “I know the term research methodology doesn’t sound very sexy, and so the subject often goes under the radar. But our methods practices are complicit in knowledge production world-wide with pervasive real-world implications. These issues ought to be brought into the light.”

Thank you all for your incredible support. It means the world to me. More soon.

Love and Light,

Research Design!!!!!!!!!!

ECSTATIC to announce the upcoming release of, Research Design: Quantitative, Qualitative, Mixed Methods, Arts-Based, and Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches (due out April 10). I can honestly say I have never been more excited to share my work. I’ve never been prouder. This is my 22nd book and it would not have been possible without every single book that came before it. It’s the culmination of my entire body of work; the offering I’ve always longed to make to the academic and research communities; my attempt at a magnum opus. research-design-cover

I first had the dream to write Research Design when I was a sophomore in college. I had recently changed my major from theatre arts to sociology, and transferred schools. I was taking survey of research methods and reading Earl Babbie’s textbook. To me, that large hardcover textbook was beautiful. It contained the formulas for how to create and understand knowledge. But I also knew that it was offering a perspective on how to create and understand knowledge. Someday I wanted to offer another perspective. More than 20 years later, I have attempted to do so.

My goal is to offer professors, students, and researchers a single book that covers all five approaches to research design, differing from the two or three approaches covered in most primary texts. Research Design can be used as a primary or supplemental text in research methods courses across the disciplines. Chapters that may not be of interest can also be omitted. In addition to covering the five approaches to research, there are other special features:

A Focus on Ethics
Often research design texts present a chapter on ethics in research, or in some cases, just a section of a chapter. However, ethics are intertwined with all phases of the research design process. Therefore, in addition to including a robust chapter on ethics (chapter 2) all subsequent methods chapters highlight ethical decision-making with “ethics in practice” stops. Topics often ignored are also covered (e.g., White researchers exploiting people of color in communities in which they are not invested, data sharing to enable replication studies).
Writing a Proposal
Most students of research methods, and novice researchers, need assistance learning how to write a solid research proposal. Therefore, at the beginning of each of the approaches to design chapters (4-8) I present a template for a research proposal. The remainder of the chapter is spent filling in the template. So instead of arbitrarily learning the dos and don’ts of each approach to design, as you learn the nuts and bolts of each approach you are simultaneously learning how to put it all together in a research proposal. As a pedagogical feature, a summary of the proposal template is presented at the end of each chapter as well.
A Note about Language
The issue of language in how we write research proposals and ultimately represent our research is important and often overlooked in the literature. Researchers using the five different approaches tend to use different words to describe the components of their work. These words are meaningful and carry implications about what we as researchers can know and how we come to know. These differences in language are not random but rather speak to deeper issues about the philosophical beliefs and research practices guiding inquiry. In order to highlight the importance of language and model how you might write a research proposal with these five approaches in chapters 4-8 I employ the terms commonly used in that type of research.
Hot Topics, Social Justice, and Interdisciplinarity
Timely topics not covered in other texts are included, such as: replication studies,
data sharing, and public scholarship. There is also coverage of standard material that is often excluded, such as an in-depth section on how to construct surveys in the quantitative chapter. Social justice themes and current events are incorporated throughout the book through interdisciplinary research examples.
Pedagogical Features and Additional Resources
This text is meant to be user-friendly. As such, key terms appear in bold font and there are easy-to-read tables and figures throughout the book. There are also “Review Stops” throughout each chapter (short quizzes meant to assess the learning of the material before proceeding on). Each chapter includes discussion questions, practical activities, and additional resources (books, academic journals, and websites). Finally, there are excerpts from original interviews with leading researchers across the disciplines who use the five approaches reviewed in this text. Their top-tips appear in expert tip bubbles in chapters 4-8.

Research Design is so special to me that I personally made everything that is inside this book (e.g. glossary) as well as the companion Power-Point slides for instructors. Textbook publishers are willing to pay people to create this content, and if you visit most textbook companion websites you’ll see the content was not created by the author, but no one knows or cares about a book like its author and so I did every single thing in or associated with the book myself to give professors and students the best possible content.

The price was also important to me. As a full-time author, I certainly believe that authors and publishers have the right to earn money for their work; however, the exploitation of students by the textbook industry is awful. I’m challenging it with the help of Guilford Press. The competing books for Research Design cost $80-$220. My textbook is priced at $45, nearly half the price of our least expensive competitor (same length), and it can be used as a primary textbook. I hope this makes it easier for students if their professors choose to adopt it as a primary or secondary text.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the team at Guilford Press for their incredible work on this book. Guilford BLEW MY MIND with the production of this book. It’s truly beautiful from the stunning original cover art to the cool design features inside. This was important to me because many students are nervous about taking research methods. The aesthetics, warmth, and clean layout of a book helps make it more inviting. As with everything else, I poured my heart into this book. We tried to get the details right.

I’m enormously grateful to those who pre-ordered the book helping us achieve an incredible launch. My fondest hope is that professors will adopt this book in their courses.

You can order at amazon

Professors can learn more about course adoption at Guilford Press

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support! I truly hope this book is of use.

Love and Light,

Round Up

I’ve been a little behind in sharing recent happenings (I’ve been in an editing hole, making the final tweaks on the most challenging and exciting book project of my career… more details soon, but the release will be April 10, 2017). Some exciting things have happened: I released my latest book, Low-Fat Love Stories, I’ve received five IPPY 2017 nominations, and Method Meets Art Second Edition turned two, and is going global.

At the end of 2016 I was thrilled to release Low-Fat Love Stories, which is a special project. It’s my first collaboration with a visual artist, Victoria Scotti. Victoria is a deeply talented visual artist and collaborating with her was a magical process. After Low-Fat Love was released five years ago, I was inundated with emails from people telling me about their stories of low-fat love. People lined hallways at book talks and conferences to whisper their most intimate stories to me. It was a very humbling experience. I wanted to honor the stories people were sharing with me so I decided to collect new, formal interviews and directly ask people about a dissatisfying relationship with a romantic partner, family member, or their own body image. Each one focuses on a woman’s experience with what I call “low-fat love.” That was the impetus for Low-Fat Love Stories which is a collection of sixteen short stories and visual portraits that Victoria and I call “textual-visual snapshots.” I conducted interview research with women ranging in age from their twenties to seventies who come from all different kinds of backgrounds and circumstances. The stories focus on settling in relationships, the gap between fantasies and realities, relationship patterns, divorce, abuse, childhood pain, spirituality, feeling like a fraud, growing older, and daily struggles looking in the mirror. They are written in the first-person with language directly taken from each woman’s interview. They are quite raw, and we think will prompt visceral responses. As a collection, the stories and arts set you on an emotional rollercoaster and illustrate the different forms “low-fat love” may take, and the quest for self-worth in the context of toxic popular culture. It’s meant to validate peoples’ experiences, often those we are too afraid or embarrassed to share, and to empower readers in their own lives. We hope readers get one simple message: you are enough. We also hope arts-based researchers, creative arts therapists, and others find value in the new methodology we developed. In order to assist practitioners who wish to use or adapt our approach, we included a detailed discussion about the methodology at the end of the book, along with the complete interview guides used in the project. Please check-out some of the interviews I did about LFLS, as well as a piece I wrote about “writer’s block” and the creative process:

I’m humbled to share my work has received five IPPY 2017 nominations (Low-Fat Love Stories has been nominated in three categories, and Blue in two). To me, awards are not a measure of worth– we must value our work independent from external judgment. That is the only way to be a scholar or artist. True to the muse. However, it’s obviously lovely and as these books are quite special to me I’m particularly touched. I’d be lucky to receive an IPPY some day. Further, books are the result of the work of many behind-the-scenes whose names often go unknown, and so I’m delighted to share these nominations with my publishing team at Sense Publishers.

Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice Second Edition turned two. The best news it that I have secured deals for foreign translations in Chinese, Korean, and Polish. There’s no question that this book changed my career and my life. It’s the labor of love that has given me my scholarly community (the greatest colleagues in the world), and countless other blessings and opportunities. There’s no greater compliment then people wanting your book in their language and so I’m honored and humbled beyond words to see MMA2 go global. I hope this further legitimates arts-based research within the global research landscape. My commitment to ABR has never been stronger.

As for what’s next… I’ll be on the road this spring doing several talks and book signings (please check the “Appearances” link under the “Presentations” tab for details). Looking forward to connecting with friends, colleagues, and readers. The big news is that the book I’ve been mentioning for years, the culmination of everything I have done in my entire career, will be released April 10!!!! I’m BURSTING to share details (very soon). This book, it’s simply everything to me. I truly hope it’s of value. More soon. #AllWaysOfKnowing #SecretBookProjects

Love and Light,

USA Best Book Awards

I’m delighted to receive three honors from the USA Best Book Awards 2016.

Gender & Pop Front Cover

Gender & Pop Culture: A Text Reader (Sense Publishers) was named an Honored Finalist in the category anthologies– nonfiction. My co-editor Adrienne Trier-Bieniek and I are humbled the committee chose our anthology as one of the four best in the country. We share this award with the generous and brilliant contributors. Books are group efforts and I love working with the team at Sense Publishers. My thanks to them for their hard work, faith, support, humor, commitment to social justice, and willingness to go the extra mile. They’re never afraid to try something new, and that’s awesome. On a personal note, this is the book I took on in order to chronicle my teachings, after leaving the academy. It’s lovely to see it’s of value to others. I’m also delighted to shine more light on the Teaching Gender series I created and edit, of which the book is a part.

MMA2 Cover

It’s an embarrassment of riches. Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice 2nd edition (Guilford Press) was named an Honored Finalist in two categories: Art and Education/Academic. It’s mind boggling to have this book selected as one of the four best education/academic books and one of the three best art books in the country in. As many of you know, I consider Method Meets Art the real start of my career. It was the first book I published on my own terms, after making the decision to follow my true creative and intellectual path. There are no words to tell you how much I appreciate this recognition. Books are the result of the work of many and so I extend my deepest gratitude to the entire team at Guilford Press, from the owners, to production, marketing, and the art department, for their exemplary work. A very special thank you to C. Deborah Laughton, my talented editor, and the ultimate champion for this book. Thank you! And to the professors, students, and researchers who have used both editions of this book, the support means the world to me. I’m so grateful. I dedicate these honors to the arts-based research community. I’m so fortunate to be in your company. The world needs our work more than ever.

Love, light & gratitude,

Low-Fat Love Turns 5

July 22 marks five years since Low-Fat Love was released and the Social Fictions series launched. This is so special to me I can hardly find the words. In many ways, I was a different person before Low-Fat Love. 2246-low-fat-love-expanded-anniversary-edition

Thoreau wrote that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” But what about women? When I first wrote Low-Fat Love, I was trying to capture a very real but often unspoken phenomenon: how women can at times settle in life and love, pretending what they have is better than it is. I was trying to tap into self-esteem and identity issues through this idea of “low-fat love”– love from others and mostly that we give ourselves that is less than. I was trying to tap into the loneliness and pain that happens as we suffer in isolation from the fear that we aren’t enough. After years of interviewing women about their relationships and identities, teaching courses about popular culture, gender and love, and fighting my own, personal demons, I needed to express these ideas in an uncensored way. Fiction allowed me to do so. Of anything I have ever written, Low-Fat Love is the most raw. I had no idea the chord it would strike in readers. It became a phenomenon. I have never received such an outpouring of personal responses to anything else in my career. It has truly been remarkable. In university hallways, at book signings, and via email, women (and men) have sought me out to tell me their stories of low-fat love. People have whispered in my ears their most personal stories about alcoholism, eating disorders, domestic violence, dissatisfying relationships, low self-esteem and even suicide. Five years later, I still receive letters from readers. Just recently a professor told me about a student who was planning to commit suicide and decided not to after reading the last page of Low-Fat Love. I have no words. I can only tell you that I carry all of these stories in my soul and will for the rest of my life. People have asked me the best compliments I received in response to the novel. Anyone taking the time to read it is compliment enough. A few memorable examples though, the great scholar Bud Goodall read Low-Fat Love while undergoing treatment for cancer, knowing he didn’t have much time left he chose to read it. I stood on a stage and did a joint book reading with creative nonfiction pioneer Lee Gutkind, because of Low-Fat Love. And then there are the women who have emailed me through Facebook and said, “You are my Tori Amos.” No words. Speaking of which, getting to meet Tori backstage and give her a signed copy after the book became a bestseller, was also a life highlight. I will also share that the process of writing the novel was deeply healing for me, and it was only through writing and publishing it that I fully came to reject low-fat love in my own life. This book was critical in my journey toward building my life with intention, sculpting my life so that it is the one I really want to live. For that I’m forever grateful to Prilly Greene, Janice Goldwyn and all of the characters. For a while I was perplexed by Low-Fat Love, the response to it and the interest in my addressing it for so many years, because I don’t consider it my strongest writing. Today I see Low-Fat Love as a gift that keeps on giving to me. Whatever chord it struck, that allows others to self-reflect and perhaps heal, I’m so grateful. I guess what I ultimately learned is the message of my later novel, Blue: “We are possibilities.”

You can pick up the special anniversary edition of Low-Fat Love here:

Low-Fat Love was also the launch of the Social Fictions series, my proudest professional achievement. This series blurred boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, academic and commercial publishing, and has been lauded as a “watershed moment” in the academy and in publishing. Even my term “social fiction” has taken on a life beyond the series. My heartfelt thanks to Peter de Liefde for taking a chance on the series, the Sense Publishers team that makes this series happen, the editorial board for giving us the boost we needed in the beginning, my incredible assistant Shalen Lowell, each series author, and the professors and readers who have given these books a chance. I also have to publicly thank my husband who was the first person to read Low-Fat Love, the only person who knew about it, and my biggest supporter of the novel and series. There were days when I thought no one would ever publish or read it, and he encouraged me endlessly. He also helped me copy edit the first edition. Thank you!!! And to those that thought we would never publish more than two books, we have twenty out and more coming down the pike. People often ask the key to our success. There’s no simple answer but in life I have learned that vision met with hard work is always a good strategy.

To celebrate the anniversary Sense Publishers is delighted to extend FREE SHIPPING and 25% EVERY title in the Social Fictions series (for summer 2016). Use promo code 192837 at check-out. Here’s a link to the entire series:

Low-Fat Love was also the beginning of my life as a novelist. Without that book, American Circumstance and Blue would not exist. Of all my work, those two novels mean the most to me. I’m very proud of my writing in American Circumstance, the most complex of my novels, and the optimism and beauty in Blue, the most joyful of my novels. These two make for good beach reads so I’d be honored if you pick up a copy for yourself or a loved one.
American Circumstance Anniversary Edition


I recently did two of my all-time favorite interviews, celebrating the new edition of American Circumstance and the 5th year anniversary of the Social Fictions series. You can read those here:

(This interview delves deeply into the writing process)

(This was a 20-questions style interview)

I’m profoundly grateful to everyone who has come on this journey with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I return to my writing hole to finish a secret textbook (can’t wait to share more– this has been the biggest challenge of my career), a handbook on arts-based research, and Low-Fat Love Stories, my first collaboration with a visual artist and first attempt at short stories. Please wish me luck. I hope to continue to grow and forge new paths. #SecretBookProjects #AllWaysOfKnowing #WeArePossibilities

Love and Light,

Black Lives Matter

My heart is broken today as we learn two more Black men have been murdered by police in this country. In 2016. Citizens should not be killed during routine traffic stops. It’s that simple. This has to stop. People should not have to fear those empowered to protect.

As I send loving energy to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as compassion to all people of color, I also want to take action. Inaction is immoral. Silence is inexcusable. I spent the day writing about this, but in the end, all I really have to say is this. We are not safe or free unless we are all safe and free. Genocide, apartheid, holocaust, state-sponsored murders— it’s all the same, past and present. Each of us is a witness. We can’t turn a blind eye. Safety is a human right. We are all complicit when our fellow citizens live in fear and imminent danger.

To contact your elected officials at the federal, state and local levels visit this website (I recommend contacting your mayor, congressman or woman, governor and senator):

To learn more about the Black Lives Matter campaign visit this website:

To read some of the articles about race I have co-authored with Dr. Donna Y Ford visit these links:

Love, light and peace,


Book 20!!!

Eeeeeee!!!! I’m elated to announce the release of American Circumstance: Anniversary Edition. I absolutely love this book and consider it one of my best. It’s also my twentieth book release! When I realized my next book would be number twenty, I took pause. It’s an extraordinary gift to be able to publish one’s work for which I’m deeply grateful. I knew the twentieth book had to be something special. I’d like to share a little about why I chose to release this book at this time, what the book is about and how it’s evolved since the first edition.SOCI-Leavy-PB.indd

I signed a contract to put out an anniversary edition of American Circumstance years ago but we weren’t planning to release it until spring of 2017. It was a conscious decision to release it now for a few reasons. As I reflected, I took stock in the reality of publishing twenty books. I’m normally focused on what I’m working on or planning to work on so I don’t have time to look back. But twenty books felt significant and like a time to pause. I decided the twentieth release should be something that represents the first twenty books, that time period in my life as an author, before I move on to other things. A better version of American Circumstance was the clear choice. More than anything I’ve written, it’s a tribute to the people I grew up with who shaped my life. It’s a love letter. The new version is dedicated to a dear high school friend that passed away far too young. Purely as a novel, I think in some respects it’s perhaps the strongest of my three novels. My copyeditor agrees. I became a better writer when I wrote my last novel, Blue. So I was equipped to go back and write a better version of American Circumstance. There are also social messages in the book that are important to me and represent who I am. In the end the decision was solidified when I realized we had released nineteen books in the Social Fictions series. I thought I should be the author of the twentieth and this also allowed for that.

American Circumstance explores appearance versus reality – how our lives and relationships appear to others versus how they are experienced. It’s a subject that I’m endlessly fascinated with. I decided to focus on social class, and the ultra-wealthy, because I thought it would be a good way to explore how the front stage and back stage are not always the same. It also allowedmetoprovide a window into the replication of wealth, power, and privilege in the US, with implications abroad. Given all of the economic changes in the years before I wrote the book, I wanted to look at the complex ways that social class shapes identity, relationships, and even the codes of friendship, such as what we do and do not say to each other.

When I first wrote the novel I wanted to mirror the experience of an impressionist painting which can look very different from a distance than it does close up, where you can see all of the little specks of paint. So I used the style of literary impressionism. Accordingly, the novel is divided into three parts, with the first (and longest) covering moments over an expanse of four decades. The second part unfolds over a period of a few months, and the final part transpires over just a few days. The idea is that you see a more distant view, and then an increasingly close up view, and all of this is enhanced by having a narrator voice dominate the beginning of the novel and increasingly representing the interiority of characters by the end.

This is the second time I’ve revisited a novel in order to put out a better version and it’s an interesting experience. I find you really have to let go of your ego and look as objectively as you can at your work. I believe writers always improve and so it makes sense that you’re better equipped to write the story once time has passed. I took a strong red pen to the book, in order to tighten it. Time also gives me insight into readers’ perspectives. I make a point to chat with readers at book events and conferences. I also routinely Skype into book clubs and college classes that use my novels so I learn what resonates with readers, what questions they have, and where they put their emphasis. All of that impacts how I approach revising as well as the new content, in this case an afterword, questions for further engagement and the epilogue.

The epilogue continues the impressionist theme I developed in the book, going from the longest expanse of time to the shortest. The epilogue carries this through by unfolding over the course of just twenty-four hours. The chapter is called “The Road Trip” and takes place a couple of months after the conclusion of the novel. What I love about it is the glimpse it provides into how cultural biases are experienced across America. The novel as a whole is meant to play with readers assumptions– what we assume about people based on status characteristics like social class or gender. The epilogue takes this further by looking at how these characteristics might be viewed and experienced across the country, and consequently, how place matters. I actually wrote the chapter at the time I originally finished the novel and held on to it to release at a future time. With the things happening in the US right now, it feels like the right time to release this short story about cultural differences, identity and safety in America. The epilogue is one of my favorite parts of the book.

I’m so proud of this novel and I’d be honored if people read it. I didn’t do this alone. I have to extend a spirited thank you to the people that made this book possible– the entire Sense Publishers team involved with the series– Peter de Liefde, Paul Chambers, Jolanda Karada, Robert van Gameren and Edwin Bakker– and Shalen Lowell, my long-suffering assistant extraordinaire and dear friend.

On the occasion of releasing my twentieth bok, I’m also enormously grateful for this life as a writer. I’m grateful to every editor and publisher I have ever worked with, every co-author or co-editor, every columnist, blogger or media personality who took the time, and above all, every reader. I’m grateful for the totality of these experiences. And I don’t take any of it for granted. I know what a privilege it is for people to publish your work and for readers to spend their hard earned money and all-too-brief time, reading it. At this juncture, I’m profoundly grateful, humbled and excited for the next chapter.

American Circumstance celebrates the first twenty books of my career. Now I can move forward in new directions. I like to challenge myself and in this regard I have some exciting new projects in the hopper– including my first collaboration with a visual artist and a book I have secretly been working on for years, it’s the most challenging project I have ever taken on and I suspect it will surprise some people. Suffice it to say, it celebrates all ways of knowing, which is more important to me than ever before. More soon. For now, immense gratitude for your time and support. It means the world to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Love and Light,