All Posts By

Norman

750 Words

By | Norm's Author Blog | 5 Comments

During our months-long stay-at-home, many of us are thinking this might be a good time to do some writing. You may think–I always meant to begin my memoirs, or try writing a murder mystery, or wax philosophical. But there seem to be distractions and reasons not to begin.

Our son, Joseph, introduced us to an effective way to overcome such creative inertia. It is referred to as the 750-Word Exercise. There is one simple rule. Begin writing about a topic of interest to you and keep writing about it in one sitting, non-stop, for 750 words—no more, no less. If you are like most writers you will find that the first 250 to 300 words will represent your current thinking but following those initial words you should enter a freestyle writing where you don’t know what will come off your fingertips. But keep writing anyway until you reach 750 words (approximately 3 pages). Then take a break and come back to it in a day or two and see what you have. You may be surprised at where your free thinking led you, and hopefully you have something worth developing further. It might serve as a section for a coronavirus journal, or the beginning of a piece of fiction, or a more reflective piece.

We encourage you to try this 750-Word Exercise. And let us know what happens if you do. (Note this blog posting is only 233 words. Oh, well.)

A Time That Wasn’t

By | Norm's Author Blog | One Comment

Sometimes there are more engaging ways to share reflections on our common quandary. I offer my effort using verse.

A Time That Wasn’t

A COVID moment;
The rhythm of being takes pause.

An island in time,
A pact with fatalistic will.

Anxiously trusting
Our sacrifices will soon end.

A Time That Wasn’t,
Cloaking a new destiny.

The Philadelphia Story

By | Norm's Author Blog | 4 Comments

Although my book on the biographical history of the Job Tyler family (see previous blog) has now been self-published, I just came across a new biography that really needs to be shared.

The University of Michigan’s Clements Rare Books Library has a huge collection of artifacts from early American history. Recently the staff hosted an online discussion on one of their artifacts, the Scott-Montgomery family album, an excellent example of a complete and well-organized family photo album. The speaker mentioned key people in the Scott-Montgomery family, including Charlotte Hope Binney Tyler Montgomery. My ears perked up at the Tyler in the name and this encouraged me to do a bit of research. It turns out Charlotte was the mother of Colonel Robert Leaming Montgomery, whose wife was Hope Binney Tyler, a name found in our Job Tyler genealogy. Thus, through marriage our two families are connected, although it turns out it was more of a merger than a marriage.

Let me explain. Hope’s father, Sidney Frederick Tyler, was a Harvard-educated Philadelphia lawyer who organized four railroads in the late 19th century. Hope’s brother, George Frederick Tyler, was a wealthy Philadelphia banker who built one of the country’s last “great estates,” with horses, a dairy, forty employees, and a 10-car turntable garage. (His biography can be found in my book.)

Hope’s daughter was Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, who Wikipedia describes as a Main Line socialite and philanthropist and who Vanity Fair once called “the unofficial queen of Philadelphia’s WASP oligarchy.” She is most famous as the inspiration for the lead character Tracy Lord featured in the Philip Barry play, The Philadelphia Story, played by Katherine Hepburn in the film of the same name, and also featured in the musical-film High Society.

Although such family linkages are certainly intriguing to come across, I accept that such high-falutin’ ties will not make me any more societal or moneyed. I remain the same old Norm that I’ve always been; just ask Ilene.

A favorable review

By | Norm's Author Blog | Comments

For over thirty years, Ilene has been an active member of the Association for Preservation Technology, International. The most recent edition of the organization’s Bulletin includes a review of our historic preservation book. We are pleased with the reviewer’s assessment and want to share three brief excerpts with you.

Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice is a foundational book written to reach every person who is exploring the depth and breadth of historic preservation. Beginning students will be inspired as they cover the extensiveness of this field and find ideas for their future careers. Storied professionals who have been practicing for years will find important details and case studies that can be applied to their own work. Norman and Ilene Tyler and Ted Ligibel have developed a concise narrative and presentation method that encourages the reader to continue exploring with each topic and chapter. . . This is the third edition of this influential book, and while this edition is 140 pages longer that the first, the added content is necessary to detail the development of the profession over the past 20 years. The Tylers and Ligibel are skilled at adding new content seamlessly to each subject. . . The Tylers, well-known in the field of preservation, along with their coauthor Ligibel, offer their long history of work in this field to entice the next generation of preservationists.” (Todd Grover, Principal, MacDonald and Mack Architects, Minneapolis)

Publishing a Song

By | Norm's Author Blog | 4 Comments

As of today, Norm is a published music composer. As some of you may know, for a while I have been working on a musical, entitled “What Does It Mean?” which includes the libretto and 15 songs about two married architects with differing dreams.

Recently I discovered a web site that makes thousands of pieces of sheet music available for free. It is called free-scores.com. If you are interested in exploring a wealth of music to download, check it out.

On this web site anyone can upload as well, so I selected one of the songs from my musical, including lyrics and piano, and published it online for public consumption. It will be interesting to see if anyone downloads it or comments on it. The song can be found either under “Norm Tyler” or at:  https://www.free-scores.com/sheetmusic?p=awznT8xztn

Writing a Memoir

By | Norm's Author Blog | 5 Comments

We would like to embolden you to consider taking pen (or computer) in hand and consider writing a personal memoir. Such a project can satisfy you in a number of ways. To encourage you we share the following thoughts and quotes other writers.

William Zinsser, in his book On Writing Well, says, “No other nonfiction form goes so deeply to the roots of personal experience as the memoir—to all the drama and pain and humor and unexpectedness of life. Memoir is the art of inventing the truth. What gives it power is the narrowness of its focus. The memoir writer takes us back to some corner of his or her past that was unusually intense.

“Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life; it’s a deliberate construction. The crucial ingredient in memoir is people. You must summon back the men and women and children who notably crossed your life. The most interesting character in a memoir will turn out to be the person who wrote it. The best gift to offer is the gift of yourself.”

Stephen King shared thoughts in his book, On Writing. “When you first write something, you should write it for yourself. When you rewrite it, write it for everyone else. Take out everything that isn’t the story. Once it’s out there, you don’t own it anymore, everyone else does.

“You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

Gloria Steinem in her book, On the Road, says, “…there is no better moment in life than finding the right word.” In so many cases, like hers and perhaps like yours, the need to get the words out is the most compelling reason for writing. We do it to share our stories, to elicit responses from others, and because it feels good. Emily Dickinson said it simply: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”

15 Generations…

By | Norm's Author Blog | Comments

Indications are my new book, 15 Generations of American Stories: Notable Descendants of Immigrant Job Tyler, is selling like hotcakes. Thanks to all who have purchased a copy, or multiple copies, as a gift for the holidays. I hope everyone enjoys reading the colorful stories of many generations of Tylers, just as I enjoyed discovering them. It’s available on Amazon Books under my name (Norman Tyler).

There is now a Facebook page, titled “Job Tyler Family History,” providing a way to keep informed on this book and other Tyler family history.

Tyler History Book now available!

By | Norm's Author Blog | 4 Comments

I am pleased to announce my latest book, 15 Generations of American Stories: Notable Descendants of Immigrant Job Tyler, has just been published. Although focusing on the extended Job Tyler family, this narrative history should be of interest to any reader fascinated by the human side of the American experience. Included are 35 biographies collected from five eras of American history. Stories include Mary Sawyer Tyler, whose lamb was honored in a very popular poem; Joseph Tyler, murdered by Caribbean pirates; Comfort Tyler, accused of being a traitor in the Aaron Burr Conspiracy; Mary Tyler, burdened for her entire life by accusations at the Salem Witch Trials; Moses Coit Tyler, a distinguished academic who established the first national historical organization; two Tyler Civil War generals and heroes serving for separate Union and Confederate armies; and relatives of three different United States presidents, none being President John Tyler.

The stories included in its 193 pages could be a wonderful gift for family and friends. You can find it on Amazon Books under my name. I hope you enjoy reading about the colorful stories of these individuals as much as I enjoyed discovering them.

Tylers and WikiTree

By | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A note from Norm on two points regarding my current project:

First: I have just completed the manuscript for my new book, Job Tyler: History of an Immigrant Family Over Fifteen Generations. Chapter topics include: origins of the Tyler name; a history of the historic Tyler Homestead in Massachusetts; biographies of Tylers from many eras of American history; and a host of other topics of historical interest. The book includes profiles of 33 interesting and “notable” individuals from extended Tyler family lineages beginning with immigrant Job Tyler, who arrived in 1638. I am especially pleased a number of readers have volunteered to provide final comments on the narrative before it goes to press. (If you would also like to be a reader, please let me know now.)

Second: I have uploaded the family tree of each of those 33 individuals using WikiTree genealogical software. WikiTree allows users to research and contribute to their own personal family trees, while also building and collaborating on a singular worldwide family tree. Its mission in this regard is truly amazing. WikiTree now includes over twenty million profiles, and more than five million connections confirmed through DNA testing. Contributions come from over 600,000 genealogist volunteers. I myself have added more than one thousand Tyler names to its database.

WikiTree was selected for this purpose because of its ease of use, no cost, and ability to merge family trees from across the world. If you are interested in your family history, whether “Tyler” or another family, I encourage you to review their home page; you likely will appreciate what this dedicated group of volunteer genealogists is accomplishing. IMHO, WikiTree has served as an especially useful complement to the information in the new book.

So that’s my update. We hope you keep in touch on this and other topics of special interest.

The Thomas Jefferson Connection

By | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

We find it’s fun to discover new historical connections in our writing. Maybe you’ll enjoy this latest revelation of ours.

During our recent trip to Virginia we toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. In his study we saw an open book with a detailed illustration of a Greek column, shown in the photo. Among all the other artifacts, somehow this book looked familiar.

As we completed the extended house tour, it dawned on us. These might be pages from Antiquities of Athens, written in 1762 by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, who spent years in Athens documenting the remaining structures of ancient Greece.

What made this so special for us? Stuart and Revett’s book served as the basic “pattern book” for the Greek Revival style of architecture that became so popular in mid-19thcentury America. In our book, Greek Revival in America, we researched the style because our house, recognized as an excellent example of a Greek Revival residence, was based on the Temple of Artemis Agrotera illustrated their book.

We thought to ourselves: Did Thomas Jefferson use the same book as a resource for Monticello? Back in our hotel room, we opened our laptop and googled “Thomas Jefferson Stuart Revett” and found Jefferson had given the very same book by Stuart and Revett to his head carpenter, James Dinsmore!

This provided sufficient evidence to conclude that Jefferson referred to the same “pattern book” for the design of Monticello as was used for our house. Such is the fun of architectural history.

(For info on our books, see tylertopics.com/writing/books )