I am a husband, friend, and retired educator, but my current vocation is writing under the pseudonym of Jeff Lee.
It is when I am working on a novel that I am most content; at present, that novel is Daisy, a story that will be set in the same time period as the novel duo (En Mer & Found and Lost in Paradise) that is Pinctada, which is now available in both a Kindle and trade paperback format via Amazon.com. Pinctada contains volumes 4 and 5 of the Myers/Benton Chronicles; Daisy will be volume 6.
Other novels in the M/B Chronicles are available at Amazon.com: The Innocents (vol. 1), Wave and Whirlwind, (a novel duo composed of Mato-sa and Afloat, vol.2 & 3), and 24 Minutes (vol. "last"). Links to the appropriate Amazon.com pages are provided on the Novels page or at the link at the bottom of this page).
In addition to creating fiction, I have spent a significant portion of the past four years writing three blogs, and I hope to compile posts from those blogs into two books: Education and Freedom and Growing Up Boomer; unfortunately in the light of that goal, life is providing interesting distractions: the aforementioned Daisy, the purchase of a new home that is being constructed a 30-minute walk from downtown Lewes, Delaware, and a few carpentry projects on the docket at our Kennett Square residence.
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 nearly finished with 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 emulate, 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. And in this what is Lawrence Durrell's magnum opus, he has perfectly captured the allure of fulfilling the responsibilities attendant upon crafting fiction, which, of course, is founded consciously or unconsciously upon the author's actual experience: Each fact can have a thousand motivations, all equally valid, and each fact a thousand faces. So many truths which have little to do with fact! Your duty is to hunt them down. At each moment of time all multiplicity waits at your elbow.
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 several Masters-level creative writing courses, plus workshops and conferences I've attended, as well as hours spent reading “how to submit” posts over the past 20 years, I knew that my previous career as an educator would not permit the time to develop the connections needed to increase the likelihood of obtaining literary representation. Short of winning a notable book prize (akin to winning a lottery), I anticipate continuing to self-publish, dare I say it? ... just for fun.
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 Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction (DPI) bureaucrat, and as a consultant who worked with challenged charter schools in Philly. In addition, from 1978 through 1984, I was an HR specialist with a major Philadelphia retailer and with the University of Delaware where I specialized in employment, compensation, and professional 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 DPI, 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 been required 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 Pennsylvania DPI, 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 choose 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, 2016