"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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Book review

By | Norm's Author Blog | One Comment

One of our books, Greek Revival in America: Tracing its architectural roots to ancient Athens, has received primarily 5-star reviews on Amazon. The following review by an unnamed reader describes our quest to unravel the mysteries inherent in our historic home through the narrative of our travel to England and Greece. The story of our odyssey includes many serendipitously unplanned discoveries. Available online, we feel this book would be a fine gift for someone who could vicariously appreciate the joys and drama of historic travel during this year’s stay-at-home holiday season.

The review reads:

“While Norm and Ilene Tyler’s “Greek Revival in America” may sound like a book that would appeal by title to architects and students of architecture only, the adventure this couple embarks on in their quest to uncover the architectural history of their beautiful, old house in Ann Arbor makes for a great and entertaining read for all. The book opens with what seems like an improbable tale concerning one of the 20+ foot columns that takes an unexpected tumble across the front lawn of their grand historic home (original structure built circa 1830’s). This incident sparks a unique gum-shoe trail for Ilene and Norm as they research and uncover stories about the home’s original owner (Judge Robert Wilson), subsequent home-owners (some characters are quite colorful) – and mainly – why this stately home was built in replication of a Greek temple in a former Midwestern frontier town in the first place. Ilene and Norm are not long for insignificant details that detract from their pursuit of the origin of those grand columns in front of their dream home. The reader continues to be drawn by their folksy narrative and well-documented travel-research that takes sometimes Norm and mostly both authors to New York State, England, and finally Athens, Greece. Ilene and Norm provide unique insight to the architectural uninitiated about why we should care about their passion for the old house. (For one we learn that Teddy Kennedy made a speech in their parlor during his presidential run). Historic facts aside, we ultimately care because Ilene and Norm are able to weave an intriguing story that includes a little mystery, fun, adventure and fact-finding. Not boring textbook “facts,” but unearthed stories that lead Ilene and Norm — and this reader – on a deeper mission involving adventure, overcoming obstacles and uncovering hidden historic landmarks. After finishing the book one mystery however still remains: how did Ilene and Norm – as husband and wife – manage to write such an entertaining book together – and yet remain professional partners and friends? That question is also part of the endearing appeal of a story that is perhaps best described as a travel-log adventure with a historic twist. Don’t be fooled: “Greek Revival in America” is far from a text book. Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in history, art, community, travel, and relationships!”

Keep up with us at our web site at: http://tylertopics.com

Book gifts

By | Norm's Author Blog | One Comment

If you are like us, you may be considering special gifts for the holidays. Many of you may be interested in the book Norm published last year, 15 Generations of American Stories: Notable Descendants of Immigrant Job Tyler. You do not need to be a Tyler to enjoy the biographies taken from five eras of American history. The stories include Caribbean pirates, Salem witches, Civil War generals of various repute, a very distinguished academic, and three U. S. presidents.

You can buy a copy(ies) on Amazon for $7.99, and with Amazon Prime you get free and quick delivery. When looking at Amazon, also check out our other books under the name of Norman Tyler. Another book of general interest published in color, Greek Revival in America: Tracing its roots to ancient Athens, depicts our personal odyssey of discovering the roots of our historic house.

We hope you will continue to keep in touch with us through email and wish you all the best for this holiday season.

Check out our web site: http://tylertopics.com

Coming Up for Air

By | Norm's Author Blog | 3 Comments

The creative process we discuss in these Blog postings can take many forms, including assisting others in their creative process. We are pleased to have been able to support our friend, Roger Rapoport, in the filming and production of a full-length movie titled “Coming Up for Air.”


Filmed in Michigan, it is the story of a collegiate diver whose incredibly stressful life as a nationally-recognized student/athlete is leading to his mental breakdown. The story revolves around his mother and how she must learn to cope with the worsening situation of her only son.

We feel it is a gripping movie. It has been recognized with a number of awards and has been an official selection at 22 film festivals at home and abroad and four best picture awards. We are proud to have had two roles in its development—as minor actors and also as an executive producer. In this period with our focus almost exclusively on COVID, this movie, completed before the pandemic outbreak, reminds us we need to recognize there are other significant social issues still with us. We feel it is a film well worth viewing and encourage you to watch it. “Coming Up for Air” is now available for streaming on Vimeo at: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/comingupforair2.

Finding Clues

By | Norm's Author Blog | 6 Comments

It is always interesting when your writing can be based on personal experience. Recently Ilene and I discovered an intriguing story in this way.

Because of COVID, we sometimes do our daily walk safely in Forest Hills Cemetery, located a few blocks from home. Because of my long interest in the Tyler family’s genealogy and history, I recently checked with the cemetery office to see if there were any Tylers buried there. They took out a map and indicated four Tyler gravesite locations, not counting our own. One site we knew about; the other three were harder to find.

One of the sites was located in Block 56, Lots 7 & 8. We strolled to this location and looked at every stone in the block. Not finding anything, we wondered if they had given us the wrong information. Fortunately, I was stubborn enough to kick some dirt away from a small area of a mostly-buried flat stone and exposed what was obviously a gravestone. Kicking away a little more dirt, we began to see lettering, and eventually were able to decipher the name, David Tyler. This photo shows what it looks like at this point, before we go back with brushes to clean it off properly.

Returning home, I looked through our three volumes of Tyler Genealogy and found a Doctor David Tyler who in 1830 moved from “Tyler Hollow” in Marcellus, New York, to Ann Arbor. Wow! I had found one of my relatives through this unique circumstance. I found information on him in Washtenaw County’s online history and on the genealogy web site, WikiTree.

Doctor David Tyler turned out to be an upright Ann Arbor citizen and an officer in the local Masonic Lodge. His brother was Comfort Tyler, also from Marcellus, a notable who had many distinctions as one of upstate New York’s early settlers. My special interest in Comfort had been established earlier when I wrote about him in my Tyler history book titled, 15 Generations of American Stories: Notable Descendants of Immigrant Job Tyler. It seems Comfort had foolishly become right-hand man for Aaron Burr when Burr tried to establish a new nation in the Louisiana Purchase with himself as head of this new government. When their small band of rebels was caught, both Burr and Comfort Tyler were put on trial before Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court. The historic Burr Conspiracy, written about in many books, resulted in both men being freed simply because their “actions” had never been realized. Comfort returned home, but with a sense of disgrace.

So I was connected with an interesting family and some fascinating history. Ilene pointed out that David Tyler was a contemporary of Robert S. Wilson, who built our own historic Greek Revival style house. The supreme irony would be to discover that David and Robert knew each other back in mid-19th century in Ann Arbor.

All in all, it was a wonderful example of how stories can come from anywhere. As writers, we should be able to find drama in the most innocent of instances; maybe even from brushing a little dirt from a stone.

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.)

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