"If there's a book that you want to read,
but it hasn't been written yet,
then you must write it."
   Toni Morrison

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How do you choose your next book?

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Did you realize that according to Forbes there are about 2,000 books published in the U.S. every day? (About half are self-published.) This means as a reader it is impossible to keep up on everything out there, even if you focus your search.

One of the ways to find a good read is through book reviews, which are essential for authors. One literary critic has arguably asserted book reviews are as important as the books being critiqued—possibly more so. We agree that promoting a book can be as challenging as writing one, and feel fortunate the new edition of our Historic Preservation book has received a surprising number of positive reviews—so far in five local publications, statewide in Planning Michigan magazine, and nationally in Planning magazine and in the “Preservation Directory.”

With this in mind, we are intrigued by the process readers such as yourself use to select your next book. How do you decide on what to read next? Have your selections been based primarily on… reading a favorite author; did you come across a book at the library; was it selected for your book group; was it part of a series; did you do an Amazon search; did you view an online recommendation site such as BookBub; was it required reading for a class; or did you get interested simply because of a good media/newspaper review?

How do you find and select books to put on your night stand or download to your iPad?

Women as Pioneers of Transcontinental Travel

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Norm has been completing his manuscript for a lengthy new book, Crossing the Continent. The book presents a series of biographies of individuals who over two centuries impacted the development of transcontinental travel in America. A unique aspect is how the biographies are interconnected over time.

Most of the biographies are of pioneering men, but since the last posting on this Blog Norm has added narratives on incredible feats by women—e.g., Sacagawea, the lone woman traveling for thousands of miles with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, providing critical translation and route advice, all while carrying an infant son on her back (shown here); Annie Kopchovsky, who in 1894 left her husband and two children for fifteen months to successfully complete a bicycle trip not only across the country, but around the world; Bertha Benz, who in Germany was driver on the first cross-country trip in the world’s first automobile; Alice Ramsey, who in 1909 had many challenges as the first woman to drive across the country; and even Ellen Church, a pilot who was not allowed to command a passenger aircraft, so instead became the first airline stewardess.These and many other biographies of men carry the intriguing history of transcontinental travel across two centuries.

Norm is interested in getting initial first thoughts from our Blog readers on a revised title for the book: Crossing the Continent: Stories of Men and Women Who Accepted the Challenge of Transcontinental Travel. Feel free to share your comments here or with an email to Norm.

Comfort Tyler and the “Burr Conspiracy”

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One of Norm’s current projects is writing a narrative history of the larger Tyler family, beginning with immigrant Job Tyler, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1638. Norm is uncovering many good stories of relatives of which to be proud, but also some that are more problematic. One of the most intriguing stories is about Colonel Comfort Tyler, a well-respected early settler in upstate New York, who somehow got involved with the “Burr Conspiracy.”

The story goes thus: In 1800, Aaron Burr ran for president against Thomas Jefferson. The electoral votes were tied, and Burr felt cheated when Congress decided to give the presidency to Jefferson. A few years later Burr supposedly planned to get his revenge on Jefferson by establishing an independent country as part of the Louisiana Purchase, with himself as leader of this new rogue nation.

He needed an army, and for some unexplained reason Colonel Tyler felt it was a worthy cause and joined Burr’s campaign. Comfort was put in charge of recruiting soldiers, and he was very successful. Reportedly between August and December 1806 he attracted more than one thousand young men committed to join Burr’s largely disorganized effort.

Ultimately, only sixty or so recruits joined Burr and Tyler on boats headed southward down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.Escaping from numerous traps, they finally were captured in Louisiana. Burr and Tyler and other leaders were charged with treason and brought to trial in Virginia. Surprisingly, the charges were dismissed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall on the basis that no witnesses came forward, and although Burr had clandestine intentions, they had committed no treasonous act. After the trial, Comfort left quickly and returned to New York, where he spent the remainder of his life, but with his reputation tarnished.

This is one of many Tyler family stories I am uncovering and researching for the book. If interested in knowing about this story in more detail, you can read my draft version at: tylertopics.com/comfort.pdf

Book Signing in Buffalo

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The Third Edition of our Historic Preservation book’s pre-release at the annual conference of the Association for Preservation Technology was a veritable celebration for Ted Ligibel, Ilene and Norm, as well as our assistant, Sarah Marsom. We signed every copy as it was sold to a variety of preservation professionals., and were particularly pleased to sell copies to Joe Quintana, from the Guam Preservation Trust, who wanted to share it with his fellow preservationists in the South Pacific. Other books went to practitioners from around the United States and Canada, as well as to our former students. We thank them for believing in us and in the value to them of this new edition.

Note the four of us were proudly sporting pins with an image of the book’s cover. This elicited additional interest from individuals who either lived in St. Louis, where the photo was taken, and those who had worked with Ilene on restoration of the Old Courthouse featured in the photo.

We also were pleased that over 50 individuals have subscribed to our Authors Blog in the last week or two. Stay tuned for more stories on our adventures in writing and publishing.

Peace Corps book now free online

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In the 1960s, Norm served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa. In his 2015 book, The Peace Corps, Sierra Leone, and Me, he recalls many of his coming-of-age stories of being in a totally different culture, sometimes working in villages where they had never before seen a white man. Readers ride with him in his beat-up Land Rover and vicariously share in the insupposable challenges of getting a health center or school built in an upcountry village; of being exposed to tribal rituals of secret societies; or of working with local African officials who still had a colonialist perspective.

Norm is now making a free copy of this book available online at the book’s web site, where you can read a review and, if you wish, buy a Kindle or paperback version from Amazon.

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