I am a husband, friend, and retired educator, but my current vocation is writing.
It is when I am working on a novel that I am most content; at present, that novel is Found and Lost in Paradise, which is being independently-published along with En Mer (At Sea) in Pinctada; En Mer and Found and Lost in Paradise are volumes four and five of the Myers/Benton Chronicles, respectively, and are intended to be read as a single work. My enthusiasm for the stories in the two novels that comprise Pinctada, their scope, and their characters has occupied my attention for the past twelve months, and during that time, I have also crafted a new book, Wave and Whirlwind, which is comprised of volumes 3 and 4 of the M/B Chronicles: Mato-sa and Afloat. Wave and Whirlwind, as well as Volume 1, The Innocents, and volume "last," 24 Minutes of the M/B Chronicles are currently available (see links on the Novels page).
I have also spent a significant portion of the past four years writing three blogs, and now that Pinctada is completed, my next project will be to compile posts from the blogs into two books: Education and Freedom and Growing Up Boomer.
My novels 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 in which I have stubbed my toe on a submerged description of the Nineteenth Century, gentleman artist I like to think I am, a description which I liberally paraphrase and personalize here: I live with a single-mindedness upon my writing, which I take seriously, but not too seriously.
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, and verifiable details that impact the story. This observation from a San Francisco Book Review of The Innocents suggests my efforts to authenticate word usage and historical facts has 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."
As a writer, I harbor every writer's wish that my work be read, but if that is the case, why haven't I (as mentioned above) 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 seven grad-level creative writing courses, plus several 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 permit enough time 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.
As an educator, I served in the classroom (middle and high school Biology and Life Science), in a district office (science specialist, assessment specialist, and curriculum supervisor), as a high school principal, as a State DOE bureaucrat, and as a consultant. In addition, I served for six years as an HR specialist with a major retailer and a large university where I specialized in employment, as well as training and development.
In the classroom, my assignments primarily involved working with disadvantaged students. At the district level, I developed and wrote curricula for over two dozen high school courses, developed and presented numerous curriculum and assessment training experiences for faculty and administrators, and developed and managed an assessment program that included end-of-course assessments for sixteen academic courses. I was appointed to a principal’s position with the specific charge of restructuring a high school under the auspices of No Child Left Behind. The school, at that time, had a demographic of 30% working class students, 30% advantaged white students, and 40% disadvantaged students of color, the latter group having been revealed by NCLB to have, in fact, been left behind.
For two years during my work on behalf of the Pennsylvania DOE, I managed the development and review of improvement plans for over 800 failing schools, again under the auspices of NCLB. In conjunction with these responsibilities, I worked with a lead manager to develop the conceptual structure and function of the online instrument used by Pennsylvania schools that had not made "annual yearly progress" and were expected to develop improvement plans; along with the manager, I was involved with the development and presentation of related training that was presented to over 1500 Pennsylvania educators.
As sole proprietor of ESAI Consultation, I served on the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education's committee that was charged with supporting the development of a Waiver for NCLB, and on behalf of the Department of Public Instruction, I served as an Academic Recovery Liaison charged with supporting the improvement efforts of identified Philadelphia charter schools.
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 below.
The author at Roosevelt Inlet in Lewes, Delaware