Latest from the Blog

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,



Literary Beauty

sabbatical beautyI’m excited to share a really fun limited partnership for this spring. I’m collaborating with a beauty company on a literary themed skincare and novel collection. This is one of those unique, fun opportunities that you just can’t pass up. It is all started on Facebook.

Adeline Koh, Ph.D. has been a long-time Facebook friend. This remarkable woman is both a literature professor and the founder of Sabbatical Beauty, a start-up beauty company that delivers unique, handcrafted products. Adeline contacted me to say she was interested in using my novel Low-Fat Love as her spring book pick for her beauty customers. Obviously I was enormously flattered and jumped on board. The company’s “Breathe” package offers skincare products inspired by themes in literature. One version of the package includes a copy of Low-Fat Love. To me, this is the perfect pairing. Low-Fat Love encourages women to stop settling in love and life and know they deserve more, and Sabbatical Beauty products are intended to support personal well-being. I’m really excited that we’ll be holding a Skype book club meeting with the “Breathe” customers after they’ve read my novel. You can pick up the “Breathe” package here, or search for other goodies from Sabbatical Beauty.

I was excited about this pairing just because it’s something cool and different. Adeline frequently uses themes in literature in her beauty products which I find incredibly creative. But this adventure has gone way beyond fun. Both of our companies have released various press releases about this special collaboration and to our great surprise, the media have picked up and redistributed our releases widely. So far our releases have been redistributed by more than 300 media outlets including CBS, ABC, NBC, LA Daily News, The Denver Post, The Boston Globe (my hometown news source) and other outlets all over the USA and abroad (from Europe to India). It’s been exciting. You can read some of the press here:

I want to extend my appreciation to Adeline Koh. I’m absolutely tickled by this unexpected collaboration. I have so much admiration for Adeline’s ethical and creative approach to her business. She has such vision. I’m also touched and humbled that Low-Fat Love continues to garner interest and attention. That book will always have a special place on my heart. Likewise, I’m delighted the recent media interest has brought more attention to the Social Fictions series, which remains my proudest achievement. I’m grateful for every opportunity to talk the series and the arts-based research movement more broadly. My publisher is grateful as well and is currently offering free shipping in North America on both Low-Fat Love and Blue (my latest and fave). Although each novel can be read on its own, together they tell a complete story, representing two ends of a continuum about relationships, identity and how pop culture shapes our stories. You can take advantage of free shipping here:

As for me, it’s back to my writing hole. I have many projects in the works, including a special release this June in time for summer reading. That will be my 20th book publication. Can’t wait to share more. I also look forward to talking about Blue, fiction as a research method and arts-based research at conferences this spring and summer. Please come see me on the road if you can. I’ll be signing copies of Blue.

Love and Light,


A Time of Growth

It’s been an amazing time of personal and professional growth, and I have so much to be thankful for. I’m still overwhelmed by the response to Blue. Thank you sincerely for making it my first instant bestseller. It is my absolute favorite thing I have ever written so nothing could mean more to me. I’m excited to finally start talking with students as professors have begun adopting it for classes. I hope to have a chance to talk with book clubs too (the novel might make for fun summer reading). The message of the book is simple: we are possibilities. When I released Blue into the world, that’s just how I felt. It was a childhood promise to myself fulfilled.  Blue is available here:

As you may know, I decided to take one full year off from professional travel– invited lectures and conferences– from May 2015 to May 2016. This wasn’t an easy decision, made harder when I had to pass on lovely keynote invitations. But this time off the road and at home in my writing hole has been invaluable. I’ve immersed myself in my first love– writing. I’ve written so much that I hope to start sharing over the next year. I’ve also expanded my publishing partnerships (which I’ll share more about below), I’ve prepared to usher my series authors’ new books into the world, and I’ve had cherished time with family and friends. Never underestimate the power of balance in one’s life. I know that the more time I have for conversations and laughter with friends and hugs with my dog, the more productive I ultimately am. This time has been a wonderful reminder.

In recent months I made two huge announcements. First, I have expanded my partnership with Sense Publishers. In addition to my four other series with Sense, I am now the creator and editor for the Personal/Public Scholarship series. Given my commitment to both engaging forms of writing and public scholarship, this is a dream realized. The editorial board truly blows my mind. My heartfelt thanks to these academic rock stars for generously signing on:

Carolyn Ellis, University of South Florida, USA

Donna Y. Ford, Vanderbilt University, USA

Henry Giroux, McMaster University, Canada

Stacy Holman Jones, Monash University, Australia

Sut Jhally, University of Massachusetts, USA

Kip Jones, Bournemouth University, UK

Jean Kilbourne, Wellesley Centers for Women, USA

Peter Mclaren, Chapman University, USA

I’m ecstatic to announce the launch title in the series will be Seven Minutes from Home: An American Daughter’s Story by award-wining sociologist Laurel Richardson. Laurel is one of my all-time favorite authors. I think this is her best book. Reading the unpublished manuscript was an honor like no other. I will share more as we near its May release.

Second, I expanded my 15 year partnership with Oxford University Press, signing the biggest publishing deal of my career. I’m delighted to serve as creator and editor for the Research to the Point textbook series. We will publish textbooks on qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research, both thematic and discipline-specific texts. HUGE thanks to my wonderful editor, Abby Gross, and the entire OUP team. More soon.

My one exception to ‘no travel’ this year was my recent visit to Penn State. For years I have been promising the grad students in art education that I would visit and we were finally able to make it happen. There’s no greater compliment than students inviting you to their school.  Heartfelt thanks to the many involved in bringing me to PSU with special thanks to Sarah Thompson, Sue Uhlig, the GAEdA officers, and my assistant-extraordinaire, Shalen Lowell. Despite some chaotic travel beyond all of our control, it was an extraordinary visit. I absolutely fell in love with everyone I met. These were the most welcoming people anyone could ever hope to meet. After a two-hour workshop on creative approaches to writing, a one-hour lecture on arts-based research, a gluten-free potluck dinner and a lovely breakfast before I left, I had made countless new friends. The work the grad students are doing is inspiring. Soon we will all be reading and viewing their work, the emerging leaders of the field. Perhaps it’s because I have taken time off from visiting schools but I was struck by two things I’d like to share. First, students often thank me for being “nice.” While this is always a lovely compliment, it’s disconcerting too because it reminds me that being nice isn’t necessarily the norm in academia. Let’s change that. Let’s make kindness unremarkable. Second, I spend more time looking forward in my work and less looking back. As a result, when I am introduced before talks and I hear the ‘blurbs’ read about my work and honors I’ve received, I feel bathed in the light of love. But I am also reminded that some people get more than their fair share of credit, while most get far too little. If you find yourself receiving more than one should expect, find ways to share it. Spread the light.

 PSU workshop

Now that I’m back home in my writing hole, I look forward to ushering two of my favorite authors books into the world: If the Truth be Told by Ronald Pelias and Seven Minutes from Home by Laurel Richardson… more on these books very soon. I also look forward to working on revisions for two secret book projects– one I hope will be fun summer reading and the other is the most challenging project I have ever taken on. Can’t wait to share more! #AllWaysOfKnowing #SecretBookProjects

Love and Light,


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,