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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,




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,