Latest from the Blog

Blue Gratitude

It’s been an incredible whirlwind of love since Blue was released. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the early readers who made Blue an “instant bestseller”– a first for me and my publisher. Thanks to you, the book was out-of-stock on amazon and my publisher’s website nearly crashed. No words. This little book means so much to me personally and truly represents a dream fulfilled, so your outpouring of support means the world to me. When my publisher recently informed me Blue broke the Sense Publishers records for both the most copies sold in the first two months since publication and for desk copy requests from professors, I was truly overwhelmed and humbled.

I’m enormously grateful to those who have taken the time to chat with me about this book. I decided to forgo the normal publicity circuit for this book and instead have a few, meaningful conversations. I’ve been asked the best questions of my career and truly enjoyed these heartfelt conversations about this little labor of love. You can check out some interviews here:

The Sociological Cinema also invited me to write a blog about some of the sociology in Blue, which you can read here:

I was also asked to do an interview for The Mary Sue about my book series, novels including Blue, and even my muse, Tori Amos. Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, my close friend and collaborator asked the questions so it was a blast:

It’s been an embarrassment of riches because I’ve learned Blue has already been nominated for five book awards.

The Emily Toth Award for the Best Single Work in Women’s Studies by One or More Authors 2016 and the Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Single Work 2016 both sponsored by the Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association

USA Best Book Awards 2016 nominated in 3 categories: Best New Fiction, Fiction– General, Fiction– Chick Lit/Women’s Lit

I know people always say it is an honor just to be nominated, but even that is more than I ever needed. Honestly, the truth is that writing this book was one of the greatest joys I have ever known and I am profoundly grateful that someone wanted to publish it, and more grateful yet that people want to read it. That’s all the recognition I could ever want.

As I said recently in an interview with Wandering Educators, books need publishers and readers so I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to the entire team at Sense Publishers. Without their incredible support and enthusiasm, Blue never would have received this kind of warm welcome into the world. Equally important I’m so grateful to my online community for supporting me while I was writing the book and to the many FB friends who have spent their hard earned money picking up a copy, and their precious time reading it. The support means the world to me. Finally, to each and every person who has emailed me during or after reading Blue, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your notes have filled me with more joy than I can express. Images of a woman going through a hard time and sitting in her winter coat amid construction and debris, reading the book for comfort; another woman at a museum café enjoying some much-needed personal time; another woman who saw herself forty years earlier during a special time in her life; and others, staying up late because they just had to finish. There are no words to express what this has meant to me. Thank you.

As for what’s next for me, well, for the last few years I have been working on a large research methods text for Guilford Press. This is my biggest secret project yet. In fact, it is truly the most challenging project I have ever taken on. I lovingly call it “the monster”. I hope to share more about this book in early 2016. So it’s back to the writing hole for me. It’s hard to stay away from the conference circuit for a year like I planned, but I need to do it. I do miss seeing my friends on the road. Thank you for your interest and support. Please wish me luck with “the monster.” #SecretBookProjects

Love and Light,



SOCI-Leavy-PB 1.inddBlue!!!!! I am thrilled to announce the release of Blue, my new novel. Blue is the latest book in the Social Fictions series and the first of my secret book projects to be revealed. If you follow me on Facebook you already know I have never been more excited for a book release. This little book means so much to me. I started writing Blue on a really emotional day. My daughter’s biological father died after a long battle with cancer. I was home alone and needed a way to get through the day. Creativity is always my path. I got a midnight blue notebook and wrote all of the colors flooding my mind. They were all shades of blue. I was listening to a Tori Amos song “Garlands” which takes place in Washington Square Park in New York City. All of a sudden I had a theme and location. Notwithstanding the grief that inspired me to pick up my pen that day, Blue is the most lighthearted and joyful of my novels. I realize now that I wrote it to remind myself that we are possibilities. I wrote it to remind myself of beauty, hope and our power to make choices each day of who want to be. Blue was a love letter I wrote to myself and I’m overjoyed to share it with others.

Here’s a synopsis from the back cover:

Blue follows three roommates as they navigate life and love in their post-college years. Tash Daniels, the former party girl, falls for deejay Aidan. Always attracted to the wrong guy, what happens when the right one comes along? Jason Woo, a lighthearted model on the rise, uses the club scene as his personal playground. While he’s adept at helping Tash with her personal life, how does he deal with his own when he meets a man that defies his expectations? Penelope, a reserved and earnest graduate student slips under the radar, but she has a secret no one suspects. As the characters’ stories unfold, each is forced to confront their life choices or complacency and choose which version of themselves they want to be. Blue is a novel about identity, friendship, figuring out who we are during the “in-between” phases of life, and the search for people who “get us.” The characters in Blue show how our interactions with people often bump up against backstage struggles we know nothing of. Visual art, television and film, appear as signposts throughout the narrative, providing a context for how we each come to build our sense of self in the world. With a tribute to 1980s pop culture, set against the backdrop of contemporary New York, Blue both celebrates and questions the ever-changing cultural landscape against which we live our stories, frame by frame. The protagonist, Tash Daniels, originally appeared in the best-selling novel Low-Fat Love (Blue is set several years later). Blue can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Because of my enthusiasm over this book and my desire to share it with others, my publishing team went into overdrive to get the book out quickly. A heartfelt thanks to everyone on the Sense Publishers team, with a special shout-out to my extraordinary production assistant Jolanda Karada who went way above and beyond. I’m also grateful to the early reviewers who have endorsed Blue so generously. Thank you, Norman Denzin, Sut Jhally, Carl Leggo, Amy Leigh Mercree, Laurel Richardson, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek and Mary Weems. I asked my dear friend and colleague Anne Harris to write something about the book and what she wrote was so special that, with her permission, I used it as the foreword to the book. Thank you, Anne! I’m also hugely grateful to the columnists and bloggers taking the time to talk with me about Blue. I’ll share interviews on my Facebook author page as they’re available.

You can visit the publisher’s page for Blue here:   

You can buy it on amazon here (please don’t be put off if there is a “temporarily out-of-stock” notice– you can order anyway– there are shipping delays due to the unexpected volume of early orders but if you order now the book will be shipped to you in 1-3 weeks depending where you are in the queue):

While I’ve been focused on the production and promotion of Blue, I had another bit of excitement recently. I was honored to give the featured interview in the Popular Culture Studies Journal. I remember when the journals didn’t want to publish my work, so this was very full circle. My deep thanks to the wonderful Norma Jones for all of her work on this, and Bob Batchelor, editor and visionary. My interview covered public scholarship (including tips for others), arts-based research, leaving academia, and more. You can read my interview and the entire stellar issue here:

Right now my heart is full I share my most personal work with others. There’s always a gap between who you are and what you’re able to express and Blue closes that gap. Of all of my books it is the clearest expression of who I am. As a kid I had some dreams and hopes; fantasies about possibilities. Blue makes me feel like I made good on my childhood promises to myself.

So what’s next? Something totally different. I’m crawling back into my writing hole to return to work on the most challenging nonfiction book I have ever written, a methods project for Guilford Press. I’m excited about this project because it values multiple ways of knowing (which many of you know is something I’ve been fighting for within my own discipline). I have a few other things in the hopper too and I’ll keep you updated. Thank you for your interest and support. I’m so grateful! #SecretBookProjects

Love and Light,




Spring 2015 News

It’s been an exciting time. First, I had an incredible time at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria in late February. It was such an honor to be one of 50 people asked to participate in the “Neuroscience of Art” session. As the only sociologist in a group of mainly artists and neuroscientists I felt like I had a real job to do. It was an extraordinary and once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m profoundly greatly. And yeah, staying in the Sound of Music house and hanging out with Ben Folds was super cool.

I also got some big news. I’ve learned that I am receiving the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 2015 Special Career Award. I am stunned, thrilled and humbled. I want to extend an enormous thank you to the ICQI Lifetime Achievement Awards Committee for this great honor. As the award recognizes my body of work, I must acknowledge that many people have contributed to my work– countless publishers, editors, copyeditors, reviewers, authors, editors, and other collaborators. I hope you all know who you are and how much I appreciate your support. Thank you! A special shout-out to my amazing assistant, Shalen Lowell, without whom none of this would be possible.

It’s been an embarrassment of riches because I have also been asked to deliver the Egon Guba Memorial Keynote Lecture at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in Chicago. Such an honor. My talk is titled “The Heart, The Public, and The Promise of Arts-Based Research.” This talk will round out a busy April. First, I travel to Arizona to do a book reading, Q & A, and signing at the renowned Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The best part, I’m doing this event with none other than Lee Gutkind (AKA: “the godfather of creative nonfiction” according to Vanity Fair). He’s a personal hero so this is a real treat. If you’re in the area please come see us talk about fiction and nonfiction in creative writing, Wednesday April 8, from 7-8:30pm. Then on the 9th I am giving a lecture on arts-based research at Arizona State University at 4:30pm.

Next my travels take me to Chicago for the AERA conference where I look forward to meeting with publishers, catching up with colleagues, and being a part of several panels on arts-based research (please check the online program). I am also doing a book signing for Method Meets Art 2nd Edition. Please come visit me at the Guilford Booth in the exhibit hall from 2:30-3:30pm on Friday April 17th to get your book signed or just to say hello. I’m double dipping on this trip because on Saturday the 18th I head to the Gender Matters Conference at Governors State University to deliver the Keynote Address titled, “Telling Gender, Family and Relationship Stories through Arts-Based Research.” My stay in Chicago ends with the Egon Guba Memorial Lecture at AERA, 6:15pm on Sunday April, 19.

In May you can catch me at the ICQI conference in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. I will be presenting in multiple sessions and receiving my Career Achievement Award. It promises to be a busy time. I’m honored to have these invitations and look forward to meeting other researchers on the road. After that, I plan to crawl into a writing hole for a good, long while. #SecretBookProjects.

Love and Light,

Double Release!!!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce the release of two new book editions.

Guilford Press and I are delighted to release Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice Second Edition. Arts-based researchers are among the most generous in the world. I am so grateful to the many students and colleagues who sent in references and samples of their work and to the many who responded to my pleas for help. I could not have done this revision without your generosity! Synthesizing the work being done in the field was not an easy task thanks to the amazing growth in the field since the first edition came out. I have done my best and sincerely hope the book is of use to others. You can learn more about the new content, read advance praise or order the book here (in honor of the release Guilford is offering free shipping and an automatic discount):

With two new releases out at the same time, it’s been a busy time doing interviews. I will share those on social media as they become available. For now, my thanks to ARTSPHORIA for taking the time to chat with me about the arts and the power of arts-based research. You can read that interview here:

Sense Publishers and I are also overjoyed to release Low-Fat Love: Expanded Anniversary Edition. I am so grateful to the readers around the world that have shared kind words and often their own personal stories with me since the first edition came out. I must admit though that I always hoped for a do-over. The novel needed a thorough copyediting and some other refinements. I took that task of revising this novel very seriously, seeking professional assistance and reading and re-reading every line many times to offer the best version of the book I was able to, while maintaining the integrity of the story and characters as they were initially penned. I am truly over the moon to be able to put out the new version. In addition to fine tuning the novel, I am also happy to offer bonus content including an afterword, a Q&A, and ideas for classroom use across the disciplines. My thanks to the team at Sense Publishers for all of their work rushing the book to press in time for Valentine’s Day. Special thanks to Jolanda Karada for her exemplary production assistance and Peter de Liefde for his continued support of my work and artist-scholars all over the world. I am presently doing interviews about why I wanted to revise this book, what the process entailed and the low-fat love lessons I have learned. I will share those as they become available. You can read more about the novel, read advance praise or order the book here (Sense is currently offering free shipping):

I have to admit, it was daunting going back and revising the two books I am most closely identified with. It was also liberating. I am proud of the revisions and genuinely at peace with the books now. I sincerely hope readers enjoy them. Thank you for all of your support!

In addition to my writing projects, the conference and book talk season has begun. I’ve recently returned from delivering the keynote address at The Qualitative Report conference in Florida. It was a thrill to finally meet journal editor Ron Chenail in person (he published my work when few would). My talk was about arts-based research and for the first time, I shared some of the new work I am doing inspired by responses to Low-Fat Love (a collaboration with visual artist, Victoria Scotti). I will be giving many more talks about arts-based research and my latest books February through May so please check the appearances tab for more info.

Now, to the real work… new books. As you may know, I have signed a contract with Guilford Press to edit the Handbook of Arts-Based Research. I am also working on several other book projects… but those are under wraps for now. Back to work. # SecondChances #SecretBookProjects

Love and Light,

Historic Sales & More

HISTORIC SALES, AWARD NOMINATIONS, AND MORE. My mind is blown. I am so grateful, humbled and energized. It’s been a really exciting time and I have lots of good news to share.

With approximately a thousand books in their catalogue, Sense Publishers is the fastest-growing international publisher of books in educational research, and I am proud to work with them. I recently received news of historic book sales for Sense, and I am overjoyed. My three books with Sense — Low-Fat Love (2011), American Circumstance (2013), and Gender & Pop Culture (2014, edited with Adrienne Trier-Bieniek)– have broken several records and made sales history. Records broken:

• all three titles are among Sense’s best-sellers for 2014– no other Sense author or editor has had simultaneous best-sellers
• all three are among the top five sellers of the year (with two holding the top two slots)
• all three are among Sense’s best-selling titles of all time
Low-Fat Love is Sense’s #1 selling title of all time
• If Low-Fat Love drops to the #2 position, it will be succeeded by another one of my titles

It’s important for me to embrace this moment because in reality, many people work on a book and this success belongs to each and every one of them. The author may be team captain, but books happen because of team efforts. My thanks to everyone at Sense Publishers, my colleagues and collaborators, reviewers, my incredible assistant Shalen Lowell and my amazing writing buddy, Celine Boyle. I am profoundly grateful to the readers and professors who have taken a chance on these books. Thank you!

My work with Sense continues not just as an author, but also a series editor, creating spaces for others to publish their work. I am thrilled that in 2014 the Social Fictions series continued to see rapid growth, releasing and signing new books. My little labor of love is Sense’s most popular and fastest-growing series. We also released two new titles in the Teaching Gender series, launched the Teaching Race & Ethnicity series and created the forthcoming Teaching Writing series. I look forward to working with authors signed to these series and assisting them as they make their visions reality.

A professional highlight of 2014 was receiving the Special Achievement Award from the American Creativity Association in recognition of my work advancing arts-based research. I was humbled to receive that award as a representative of the arts-based research community. I am grateful that ACA chose to recognize arts-based research in this way and I appreciate their acknowledgement of the Social Fictions series as “ground-breaking.” I recently learned that I have been nominated for 4 2015 AERA awards. Nominations:

• The Tom Barone award for Arts-Based Educational Research
• The Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research in Education Award
Fiction as Research Practice, Division D Methodology Award, lifetime achievement in qualitative research
The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, Outstanding Qualitative Book of the Year

There are so many who ought to have their work recognized and I am deeply honored to be included. To those who have written letters on my behalf, I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. So touching. Thank you!

Adrienne Trier Bieniek and I are also delighted that our book Gender & Pop Culture has been nominated for the “Best Edited Volume 2015 Award” given by the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations. Thank you to the contributors and early reviewers!

For me, much of 2014 has been about revision. In January 2015 Guilford Press and I are delighted to be releasing Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research, the Second Edition. People have been asking me to write a new edition for a while. I finally felt the time was right. My experiences over the past few years, particularly travelling to speak about arts-based research, have shown me the incredible growth in the field. I have thoroughly revised the book and I think it is much stronger. In the new edition I pay significant attention to public scholarship, issues of audience and I have new features including coverage of fiction as a method, film and a whole chapter devoted to evaluation criteria. The new edition is already available for pre-order and you can read advance praise as well. I must say, I am overwhelmed by the sea of love ushering this new edition out into the world. Deep gratitude to the scholars who have offered endorsements.

I am also tickled to be releasing Low-Fat Love: The Expanded Anniversary Edition in early 2015, a year earlier than initially planned thanks to reader interest. I have worked hard to refine the novel and add bonus content including an afterword, answers to questions posed by readers around the world, ideas for classroom use, and more. For me, this anniversary edition is a love letter to readers who embraced the original and new readers who may discover it for the first time. We will get it out before Valentine’s Day.

I learned so much in 2014 through the art of going back and revising. Now it is time to move forward, explore new directions and push myself intellectually and artistically. I have several book projects in the hopper including the most challenging nonfiction book I have ever taken on, an inspiring collaboration with a visual artist, an edited volume, and more. I need to keep some of the details private for now… it’s a moment when I need to crawl into a private writing hole and nurture the work.

2014 has been an extraordinary year. I am looking forward to 2015– releasing two second editions, conference travel, speaking engagements and lots and lots of writing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your interest and support. I am so grateful. To my fellow ABR warriors, this is an exciting time for all of us– the field is just starting take off. Stay tuned for some surprises next year. #SecretBookProjects

Love and Light,

Creativity Award

I am honored to share that I accepted my Special Achievement Award from the American Creativity Association on September 12th at their annual conference in Philadelphia. It was such a joyful and humbling experience. They said my award was for “special and extraordinary advancement of arts-based research and the ground-breaking Social Fictions series.”

I promised to share the details so here you go. As I approached the podium to accept the award I made a concerted effort to think about every graduate student or early career researcher who evACA awardser told me about how they feel unsupported at their institution or afraid or unable to do the work they want to do. I tried to channel the energy of the moment to them. This was my acceptance speech:

“Thank you to the American Creativity Association for this honor and for all of the wonderful work you do promoting innovation across the disciplines. I am happy to accept this award as a representative of the arts-based research community and on behalf of the Social Fictions authors, my publishing partners, and creative researchers everywhere. And to those working on the margins or trying to change what the margins are, keep going. Thank you so much!”

For me, the greatest joy in this lovely acknowledgement from the ACA is that it shines a spotlight on arts-based research, further legitimizing the field. I was truly honored to accept the award in that spirit.

I want to extend my appreciation to all those in the media who have taken the time to talk with me about the award, arts-based research and the Social Fictions series. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share more about ABR with different communities. Of course I am honored for any chance to highlight the Social Fictions series that I am so proud of. The Social Fictions series is a group effort and I extend much gratitude to the authors and the entire team at Sense Publishers, led by the fearless Peter de Liefde. This has been a labor of love for us all.

It’s difficult to keep up with all of the press but here are a few of the interviews I have given and profiles that have been published to date.

I also need to extend a huge thank-you to Shalen Lowell, assistant extraordinaire. Without her tireless efforts behind the scenes none of this would be possible.

To ABR warriors everywhere, please take this recognition as validation of the path-breaking work you are doing. But there is much more to do as we carve new paths, build knowledge in new shapes, expose false polarizations between ways of knowing, and expand existing publishing and funding structures. So, we best get to it. Thank you for your support on this journey and please know I stand with you too. Oh, and did I mention that I have some exciting new projects in the works? More soon…

Love and Light,

Special Achievement Award

Wow! BLOWN AWAY. I am overwhelmingly honored to learn that the American Creativity Association is awarding me a 2014 Special Achievement Award for my work advancing arts-based research and for the Social Fictions series. I am overjoyed that our series is being called “ground-breaking” and representative of “a watershed moment in the academy.” This recognition means so much to me and I hope serves as a beacon of hope for arts-based researchers around the world.

The American Creativity Association in a national, transdisciplinary organization that recognizes creativity and innovation in all fields including medicine, business, technology, education, journalism, and so forth. The ACA has honored pioneers in creativity including: Jack S. Kilby (inventor of the microchip), Earl Bakken (inventor of the first wearable heart pacemaker), John Glenn (astronaut, first American to orbit the earth), Morris I. Stein (one of the founders of creativity research), Ann Medlock (award-winning journalist and founder of the Giraffe Heroes Project), and many others. The ACA has also honored groundbreaking corporations including the LEGO Group and Pixar Animation Studios. Obviously to be amongst those honored by the ACA is indescribably humbling. It’s funny too because quite recently I was asked in an interview what I am most drawn to in others and my response was “creativity.” Little did I know I would be receiving such a generous and humbling award all about creativity. It’s lovely beyond words. Truly, I can’t imagine any honor that could mean more to me.

For the American Creativity Association to recognize arts-based research in this public manner, I believe, is an enormous victory for the ABR community. It isn’t always easy doing this work. It can be difficult competing for funding when some funding sources are set up to support work conducted only from other research paradigms and thus arts-based work is often too easily dismissed. It can be equally difficult to get the work published or otherwise disseminated, as new formats require new ways of marketing. And often our work is put under a microscope for intense scrutiny. So to the countless researchers and students I have met travelling all over and speaking about ABR, to those I have chatted with in corridors at conferences, and those who have emailed me, please take this national recognition for the work we do as validation. It takes time to forge new pathways, resistance is a part of the package, but this award is meaningful to me because it shows the incredible headway we are making. Let’s enjoy it and make use of it. Arts-based research is a legitimate approach to knowledge-building and a necessary means for making the products of social research accessible to diverse and public audiences. There is a practical and ethical mandate for doing so. This award is much bigger than my own work. I am honored to serve as a representative of the ABR community and in September I will accept this award on behalf of arts-based researchers everywhere.

There are so many people to thank with whom I share this award.

I extend a spirited thank you to the entire Sense Publishing team for supporting innovative and creative works, including the Social Fictions series. Thank you to Peter de Liefde for taking a chance on the series and for your unfailing support. Thank you to Paul Chambers, marketing and sales guru, and my go-to guy. You two have done so much to support this work and I love working with you so much. Special shout-outs to Bernice Kelly, Jolanda Karada and Derrek de Liefde for all of your help with these books. I also want to thank the Social Fictions editorial board: Carl Bagley, Anna Banks, Carolyn Ellis, Rita Irwin, J. Gary Knowles and Laurel Richardson. I admire you each enormously as pioneers in the field of arts-based research and I thank you for adding your name and expertise to the series from the start. My heartfelt thanks to all of the Social Fictions authors as well. You are each so talented and I am honored to work with you. Any attention the series receives is a result of your creativity, talent and hard work. I am touched that so many wonderful scholars wrote letters on my behalf. Thank you to Robin P. Clair, Anne Harris, Carl Leggo, Lauren Sardi and Anita Sinner. I am told others wrote letters as well and I apologize sincerely if your name has been left out. Please email me to let me know so I can thank you properly.

I also extend a huge thank you to all of the publishers who have supported my arts-based and qualitative work. Thank you to C. Deborah Laughton, Seymour Weingarten, Bob Matloff, Paul Gordon and the entire group at Guilford Press. Thank you to Mitch Allen, Jan Morse and the entire team at Left Coast Press. Thank you to the wonderful team at Oxford University Press including Abby Gross, Anne Dellinger, Elizabeth Gorney and Ryan Cury.

I also thank my former colleagues in the Sociology & Criminology Department at Stonehill College for ten glorious years. Thank you to the Sociology Department at Boston College– attending graduate school in that department was one of the best things I ever did. And as always, thank you to Mr. Shuman, my high school English teacher– everyone needs at least one great teacher, I am so lucky that I had the most exceptional teacher of all.

This award recognizes, in part, my effort to get arts-based research into the public domain and thus I extend my thanks to those columnists, radio show hosts, Facebook groups, and bloggers who have interviewed me, written about my work and circulated my work. Special thank yous to Michelle Arana at, Milena Z. Fisher at The Creativity Post, and Robyn Hussa Farrell at Mental Fitness Inc./We Are The Real Deal. Thank you to Martin McGovern at Stonehill College for teaching me how to write op-eds and how to get media exposure.

To all those whose stories have been woven into my novels, thank you. I am blessed that so many have shared their stories with me, sometimes in interviews, and at other times, in heartfelt whispers in bookstore doorways or university hallways. I will continue to do my best to take in what you share, put it through my filter, and offer it up to others. And of course my novels are peopled by the ghosts of relationships past. Thank you to all those who haunt the pages– you have enriched my life.

I also thank all of my arts-based colleagues. To all those whose work I have cited, to those who have circulated my articles and op-eds, to those who have read or course adopted my books, to those who have sent me references, to those who have published their work in any of my book series, and to those with whom I have collaborated or shared a spirited exchange, I hope you know who you are, as my debt to you is great. A special thank you to my talented colleagues in creative arts therapies: Gioia Chilton, Nancy Gerber, Cathy Malchiodi and Victoria Scotti.

Finally, thank you to my daily support team. Shalen Lowell, thanks for being the best research assistant a gal could ask for. Monique Robitaille, thanks for helping me with the mind-body connection. Much gratitude to my local writing buddies and friends, especially Celine M. Boyle, for making me a better (and saner) writer. Tori Amos, thank you for the endless inspiration; not only does your music fuel my creative output, but you have taught me more than anyone about the “business” of it all. Last but never least, Mark and Madeline. You have both changed your lives and made enormous sacrifices to support my intellectual and creative pursuits. I couldn’t do it without you, and I wouldn’t want to. Much love and appreciation. Mark, you are the best partner anyone could have and none of this would be possible without you. I am more me with you, than I could ever be on my own. Madeline, a special note to you, my heart. Thank you for understanding that my work is a part of who I am, and for letting your mom live as a writer. In return, please know to your core that I will always support you as you carve your own path in this world, in any way you choose. Build the life you want to live– the possibilities are as grand as your imagination. I will always love and support you. xoxo

I am over the moon. So grateful and humbled. To my fellow ABR warriors, please know that I am also energized, inspired and fuelled. I look forward to continuing to forge new creative pathways with all of you. To it.

Love and Light,

Books, Columns, Travel

It’s been such an exciting time, there’s so much I’d like to reflect on. We’ve begun our trade campaign with full-page ads in feminist magazines to promote my novels American Circumstance and Low-Fat Love. It’s a thrill to see these research-based novels making their way further into the public domain. It’s also that time of year and I’ve just returned from some wonderful travel experiences. Talking to others about arts-based research is a great privilege and the ability to connect with people engaged in this work in different locations gives me a sense of the expanse and vibrancy of our community. Before I get to my travels I have some other news to share.

In my last blog I was thrilled to announce the release of my 15th book, Gender and Pop Culture: a Text Reader, co-edited with my colleague and friend Adrienne Trier-Bieniek (Sense Publishers, 2014). This book really represents a full circle moment for me, as it gave me an opportunity to document so much of what I had taught for more than a decade. I was honored to be interviewed by about the book. And yes, they did call me “the high priestess of pop-feminism” … giggle… which is a badge I will wear with honor. You can read that interview here:

I would also like to announce a new column I will be writing for creativitypost. I had reached out to creativitypost because I love what they’re doing. As you can imagine, I was absolutely honored that the founder and president, Milena Fisher, asked me to write a regular column about arts-based research. Certainly I welcome any opportunity to discuss these issues in the public domain. My column is titled Art, Research, Thought (Art): How Creative Researchers Are Bridging the Arts and Sciences. For my first two posts, creativitypost wanted to introduce me to their readers by reprinting one of my Huffington Post columns about using fiction to communicate research to public audiences, followed by an original interview. I asked author, filmmaker and fellow ABR warrior, Anne Harris of Monash University to interview me about arts-based research. Thank you to all those who read, “liked” and shared my posts. I am tickled that my first column has already become one of the most popular posts on creativitypost. In the future I plan to include original articles, conversations with others in the ABR community and perhaps additional interviews. My web team is busy updating my site so soon there will be a direct link to my new blog. For now, you can check out my profile at creativitypost and click on the column title to read the first two posts here:

While I’m thinking about creativity, I would love to share one of the most fun interviews I have ever done, all about inspiration and balance. From the way art inspires us to my best to talent to who would direct the movie-version of my life, I really enjoyed this. A huge thank you to the always wonderful Michelle Arana at examiner. You can read our interview here:

Finally, I’ve just returned from some incredible travel experiences that gave me a chance to talk about and teach arts-based research and to meet many students and practitioners in the field. First I attended the AERA conference in Philadelphia. I must say, with 14,000 people in attendance it was an absolute madhouse. I think it will take me some time to recover from the onslaught of stimulation! It was absolutely wonderful, however, to see the level of interest in arts-based research and arts-based educational research. I was honored to be a part of an ABR symposium with Candace Stout, Joe Norris and Kakali Bhattacharya. I admire these folks enormously and can say that we were thrilled with the reception we received, presenting our work in a packed, standing room only room filled with enthusiasts. Likewise, I had a fantastic time co-teaching a four hour workshop on arts-based research with Kakali. The participants were gracious and engaged and I learned so much from the experience. It was also my great joy to share drinks, meals and treasured conversation with my old friends in the ABR community, those I have long admired but never met, and many new friends. Thank you to all those who shared their time and talent with me. I would also like to note that I am often asked about what is most exciting in the ABR community and my time at AERA confirmed the answer that I always give: the work of innovative graduate students. My favorite session this year was conducted by two incredible young scholars who have written their dissertations as graphic novels. Wow! I couldn’t have been more impressed or more inspired. The way people are pushing on the bounds of our field is truly exciting.

A final highlight from AERA was seeing the pre-launch of the Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, gift wrapped in my daughter’s magnificent original art. I first discussed the possibility of editing this handbook exactly 6 years prior at AERA so this was the ultimate in full circle moments. Oxford University Press did an incredible job getting advance copies of the handbook to the conference and gloriously displaying it. I am so proud of the work that the contributors did and was elated to learn that the handbook is off to a smashing start. Thank you all for your interest in this work! The handbook doesn’t officially launch until May, so I will have more to say on this subject soon. For now, a huge thank you to my wonderful editor Abby Gross, the entire Oxford University Press team and all those who contributed to the handbook.

I flew straight from Philadelphia to Toronto where I was honored to give a lecture on arts-based research at the University of Toronto. In my presentation I talked about building research “in new shapes” so that we can engage new, diverse and public audiences with the products of social research. I couldn’t have been greeted more warmly. Following my talk I was invited to say a few words at the launch of Tara Goldstein’s book Zero Tolerance and Other Plays, which is a collection of three plays recently published in the Social Fictions series. I was overjoyed to be a part of the launch of this groundbreaking book and absolutely delighted to see a performance of two scenes from the lead play. Everyone involved with this event did an outstanding job and my hat is off to them. I want to extend a very special thank you to Tara Goldstein for taking such good care of me and to her colleagues and graduate students for making my stay so special. As was the case at AERA, I left Toronto incredibly inspired by the path-breaking work of graduate students who are using ABR in filmmaking with social justice messages, research with children about identity and community, and transdisciplinary collaborations involving the use of theatre in health studies, and so much more. I am truly blessed because not only do individuals take the time to share their arts-based projects with me but in doing so I gain a greater understanding of the whole of which we are each part. And I can tell you all, it is truly mind blowing.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I thank you for coming along for the ride. Oh, and of course I met with my wonderful publishers on this trip and I have some very exciting news regarding new projects forthcoming…

Love and Light,


2014 Releases & Interviews

It’s been an incredibly busy and exciting year so far and I’m happy to have a moment to share some of the highlights. I’ve just released a new book, done some interviews, published a new op-ed and we had our first simultaneous double release in the Social Fictions series. Such a great start to the year!

I am thrilled to announce the release of my 15th book, Gender & Pop Culture: A Text-Reader (edited with my friend and colleague Dr. Adrienne Trier-Bieniek). It feels like a milestone to be 15 books into my career and I’m glad the book in that slot is explicitly feminist. That feels right to me, and important. This book came at just the right time. I left teaching after more than a dozen years, ten at my last institution, and while it was definitely the right time for me to move on and focus exclusively on publishing, leaving the teaching profession was a big change. Gender & Pop Culture became a chance to document some of the main messages from my classes. It became sort of full circle for me to publish this book at this time. I’m contented to know that now some of the messages of my teaching will continue to live in college classrooms through this book. Adrienne, the contributors and I worked hard on this project and couldn’t be happier with the result. We’re deeply honored to have received advance praise from gender and media studies royalty, Jackson Katz, Jean Kilbourne, Sut Jhally, Lisa Wade and Anne Harris. You can read their words and more about the book here (Sense is offering free shipping during the release period if you buy it directly from their website):

In recent years I’ve also been interviewed as a regular part of my work life. I feel so fortunate to have the chance to speak about writing, arts-based research and my own books. I find that as I share my experiences I also reflect and learn. Here are some the interviews from the beginning of this year that have been especially rewarding.

As a part of an interview I did about how I translate women’s real stories into fiction, We Are The Real Deal, posted a lovely review of American Circumstance which truly made my heart sing. It read in part: “There is a timelessness and timeliness in the writing. The strong bonds painted between friends, lovers and caretakers give it a feeling of long-lasting relevance while simultaneously the attention to social class, the one percent, and even hints at global inequality (including human trafficking) make one think Leavy is very much chronicling how gender and social class intersect at this moment in history, from her perspective as an American woman. In some ways it’s like a contemporary, chick-lit version of The Great Gatsby but from a woman’s perspective and told through female characters that are never quite as they appear.” You can read my interview about women’s stories and fiction here:

As a part of my series of exclusive author interviews with examiner I did a 20 questions author interview. I loved having a chance to pay tribute to authors and other artists who have influenced and inspired me, explain why American Circumstance is my personal favorite of my books, and so much more, even sharing some secrets. You can read the full interview here:

That interview was so much fun that I agreed to do a 20 questions about being a series editor. My hope is the interview will be of value to other writers and editors. We covered a lot of ground, from sharing how I approach building a book series to the most common mistake authors make. Here’s that  interview:

The editor of The Sociological Imagination invited me back for a follow-up interview on arts-based research and public scholarship. I’m always grateful for opportunities to talk about the vitality of the arts in social research and our need to find ways to make research accessible. You can read that interview here:

As you may know, I regularly write for the Huffington Post and I usually just share those pieces on my “in the media” links page. In honor of Valentine’s Day I wrote a piece about the top 10 ways women settle for low-fat love and I received so many emails that I wanted to extend a heartfelt and public thank you to the many women and men who sent thank you notes or shared their experiences with me. I am deeply touched when my work carries meaning for others and I’m delighted this piece provided food for thought. You can read it here:

Finally, another major highlight of 2014 so far has been the first double-release in the Social Fictions series. We released October Birds: A Novel about Pandemic Influenza, Infection Control, and First Responders by Jessica Smartt Gullion and Heartland: A Historical Drama about the Internment of German-Americans in the United States during World War II by Lojo Simon and Anita Simons over a two day period. This double release is very special for all of those involved in the Social Fictions series. Most didn’t think it was even possible to publish the products of arts-based research and now here we are, with our series thriving. It’s lovely that the double release includes both a novel and a play, showing the vitality in different genres for communicating social research to broad audiences. These two very different books also share a commonality: how people respond to fear. I love these books and applaud their authors. You can get more information or order the books here (Sense is offering free shipping on these titles for their release if you order directly from their website):

2014 is looking to be an incredibly busy and exciting year. I look forward to the promise and possibility. Thanks for coming along.

Love and Light,


Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’m so excited to start 2014. This is going to be a busy year. I think it’s a good time for a brief look back and forward.

Last year was a special year as I released my novel, American Circumstance, which was a true labor of love. The response so far has been incredible and I am so touched. I also released Fiction as Research Practice in 2013. I’m so proud of that book, which I believe is the first of its kind. I hope the book is of value to scholars, artists and writers, who are blurring boundaries and trying to engage new audiences with their work. 2013 was also a busy year in terms of travel. I was fortunate to speak at various universities in North America and at international conferences in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Thank you to everyone who has invited me to their campus or event and to all those who came to hear my talks and join in conversations together. I was fuelled by our conversations. 2013 was also a big year as I expanded my partnership with Sense Publishers. I am now editing 3 book series for Sense and I look forward to our continued work together. Finally, I want to thank everyone who interviewed me last year with a special nod to Michelle Arana at The Examiner for her ongoing exclusive series of author interviews with me.

Looking forward 2014 is filled with promise. In the next couple of months I look forward to releasing two new books. First, my co-edited volume with my friend and colleague Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, Gender & Pop Culture: A Text-Reader, will be released by Sense later this winter. This book was a wonderful collaborative experience that afforded me an opportunity to document what I spent more than a decade teaching. I’m thrilled with the end result and delighted that we have received advance praise from Jean Kilbourne, Lisa Wade, Anne Harris and others. In April Oxford University Press will release the edited volume I have been working on for years: The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research. The collection is a part of their impressive Oxford Library of Psychology and I am eager to finally be able to share this collection with others. I was honored to be invited to edit this book and even more so when established and emerging leaders in the field agreed to write chapters. My daughter Madeline Leavy-Rosen’s original art adorns the cover of the handbook which is the cherry on the sundae. I couldn’t be more pleased with the handbook we have all worked so hard on.

My primary work in 2014 will be to continue to promote American Circumstance (my personal favorite of my books). A mini book tour in New England is in the works so fingers and toes crossed that the scheduling works out. We’re also launching a trade promotion with BITCH magazine and BUST magazine– both outstanding feminist publications I am delighted to be associated with. In honor of our trade campaign Sense has reduced the price of American Circumstance and Low-Fat Love to $15 for all of 2014. I am thrilled this will give more people a chance to read these books (go to amazon). This year I will also be completing the second edition of Method Meets Art for Guilford Press. The process of revising this book has been surprisingly rewarding and I look forward to sharing the result. I will also be busy on a new book methods book for Guilford which is giving me a chance to work with my long-time friend and colleague, editor extraordinaire C. Deborah Laughton (AKA: the woman who launched my career). Several other book projects are in the works (but I have to save something to share later). I also look forward to continuing to grow my book series and to many new launches this year. Finally, I plan to continue to do all I can to promote arts-based research and public scholarship. Toward that end I will continue to speak at conferences and write op-eds on these topics. I also already have busy interview schedule lined up. I’ll share those stories as they’re released. In that spirit here is my first published interview in 2014 with The Sociological Imagination (it focuses on arts-based research, the Social Fictions series and public scholarship).

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support and interest in my work. I look forward to a great year and wish the same for you.

Love and Light,