I am a husband, writer, friend, and retired educator.
My current vocation is writing novels, and for diversion, I blog.
It is when I am working on a novel that I am most content; at present, that novel is Pinctada. My enthusiasm for the story, its scope, and its characters, as well as my recent efforts to craft a new novel, Wave and Whirlwind, from the bones of two earlier Jeff Lee novels had temporarily caused me to ignore my blogs: Education and Freedom and Growing Up Boomer. I am happy to note that I am once again spending time on the blogs, with the posts already published therein remaining timely, and if I may say so, informative, at times provocative, and in the case of Growing Up Boomer: nostalgic. If you do read them, please share your reactions with me; your thoughts will be most appreciated.
My novels are “independently published” and are available in paperback or electronic formats via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP/Amazon) under the pseudonym, Jeff Lee. I have not made a concerted effort to implement most of the marketing expectations that come with self-publishing because the time and energy spent marketing distracts from my writing and from that important corollary: reading! At the moment (as I edit this introduction), I am wading through the densely-descriptive The Alexandria Quartet and have stubbed my toe on a submerged description of the Nineteenth Century, gentleman artist I suppose I am, which I liberally paraphrase and personalize here: I live with a single-mindedness upon my writing, which I take seriously, but not too seriously.
As a writer, I harbor every writer's wish that my work be read, but if that is the case, why haven't I made a concerted effort to seek representation for my work? What I have learned about the process from Peter Bart (my mentor in the 80s), and from grad level creative writing courses, workshops and conferences, and hours spent reading “how to submit” posts over the past 20 years, I know that my previous career as an educator did not allow me to develop the connections needed to increase the likelihood of obtaining representation. Short of winning a notable book prize (akin to winning a lottery), I anticipate continuing to self-publish.
Perhaps I will honor the fantasy of establishing a little booth in an appropriate venue where I will hawk my books like other hopeful artisans who spend hours creating tchotchkes to sell. Please do not make the mistake in thinking I do not believe in my work; on the contrary, I wholeheartedly believe in it, but that belief is akin to the way a parent feels about his child’s brilliance. I have never felt comfortable shouting out via social media that my books are really, really good and that people should read them, which I have done on occasion. I know it is what the cottage industry that exploits the dreams of wannabe authors says I should do; I'm just not comfortable doing it in the absence of third-party confirmation.
As someone who has an embarrassing love of audiences (the nut does not fall from the tree: see Baby Jane) and who has had ample experience in front of them, I would work hard as a marketeer if a publisher someday decided my work was ready for prime time, but while the validation that comes from a publisher's acceptance would be very nice, I am already proud of the novels, short stories, scripts, and poems I have produced despite the absence of a publisher's corroboration. Stay tuned.
The genre of my novels, especially the Myers/Benton Chronicles, is upmarket, historical noir. The plots are located in the past, and I pay attention to the social conditions and a myriad of other details of the period in which the novel is set, including the origin of words, (e.g. in 1956, did Aussie women refer to female friends as mates? When did the expression, "the most," make itself known in the parlance of American teenagers?) and verifiable details that impact the story (e.g. the phase of the moon on a specific date in Wave and Whirlwind, the weather on the day of the 2016 Presidential Election in 24 Minutes, and in Pinctada, the population of Atuona on Hiva Oa in 1956?) This observation from a San Francisco Book Review of The Innocents suggests my efforts to authenticate word usage and historical facts may have been worthwhile: "There’s a distinct sense of time in the book, which works much to its overall advantage. 1955 comes to life in this novel in a profound way."
Thanks very much for reading this far! I would be very grateful should you decide to read one of my novels or my compilation of short stories, and when you have completed the read, I would love to hear from you using the Contact Jeff Lee Byrem section immediately below.
The author at Roosevelt Inlet in Lewes, Delaware