Douglas C. Smyth, Author

I’m half Venezuelan and a quarter Hawthorne. Writing is in my blood.

I wrote for magazines and free-lance assignments, from encyclopedias to radio programs from 2001-07. I have authored many unpublished novels and, so far, four (self) published novels, as well as assorted published short stories and articles.

Before my Ph.D program (Political Science, Economics and Anthropology), I tried to write short stories while I was assistant editor of Glass Packer/Processor, a business magazine. I then taught at what became the University of Central Florida. After publishing almost the requisite number of academic articles, I quit full-time academe and taught for years in a college prison program in NY. That’s when I turned to writing novels as well as freelance work. I wrote at least ten novels. Agents and/or publishers seriously considered several of them, and finally I self-published two of them as e-books on Smashwords: Body Destiny and From Renata With Love, a prison novel.

Scrapping the formula: write what you know, I wrote two historical novels. They are: Attila as Told to His Scribes and I, Zerco. These I published on Kindle, after a British agent marketed both of them unsuccessfully for years; he finally retired.

Niggling at the back of my consciousness were stories from my family: both the Venezuelan and Hawthorne branches. 

My mother was born on a Venezuelan island off its coast. She was named on ship-board after a Russian princess, raised in Trinidad to age 11, and then she, her brothers and her mother fled Trinidad for New York–but always denied they fled. My maternal grandfather later became the Governor of the Venezuelan state of Falcon; he and his many brothers were mostly high up on the security side of dictator Vicente Gomez’s long-lasting regime.

My paternal grandmother was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the favored daughter of his son, Julian Hawthorne, a bestselling novelist and convicted fraudulent speculator. Her son, my father, Julian Smyth, was impatient with the whole Hawthorne phenomenon and was a would-be scientist and teacher. My paternal grandfather, Clifford Smyth, was a former consul in Colombia, journalist, writer, novelist and the founder of what became the New York Times Book Review. He and his wife, were Swedenborgians, following a mysticism my father rebelled against. However, Clifford also published a fantasy novel about an American traveler wooing a South American Indian princess. His son, Julian, married a Venezuelan who styled herself a princess, having been named after one.

My parents later set up and ran a small school, where I grew up–as the teachers’ son.

After graduating from college, I joined the Army to avoid the draft (serving just before Vietnam). I was stationed in Turkey and Germany in the Army Security Agency.

After the military, I worked for a business magazine (Glass Packer/Processor), virtually reporting, writing and laying out each issue as Assistant and then Associate Editor. The Editor assigned the themes for each issue, sold ads for it, and arranged ad-related articles for me to write.

At graduate school, I focused on third world politics and development, with a concentration in South Asia. I spent a year (1969-70) in Central India for my dissertation research. Then, I taught at the University of Central Florida, until I decided not to apply for tenure. I returned to the Mid-Hudson region of New York, where I’d grown up.

In 1979, I married Elizabeth, now a published novelist and poet and together we raised a son, a daughter and (part-time) my daughter from a previous marriage. They are all grown now, and I’m well past retirement age.

But still I write. In 2017, I “published” on Amazon and with a private publisher, a novel-memoir of my mother’s childhood in Trinidad, and the mystery surrounding her family’s hurried departure for New York: Princess Olga Uncovering My Headstrong Mother’s Venezuelan Connection.

I am currently working on two novels. One is a fictional retrospective: “What? At High Valley?” The other is post-apocalyptic: “Will We Survive?”

Douglas C Smyth

Douglas C Smyth, Author, Gardener,

The great white oak, about 300 years old, that brought us to this piece of land.

On May 3rd, 2020, the great white oak collapsed! No wind, no rain, a beautiful sunny day, but Our Oak got too heavy on top, and too weak at his base. Result:

Quite miraculously, the Oak fell between two rows of trees and only broke off one secondary limb of a cherry tree at about the center of this picture.

He’s already made a fine outdoor meeting place, even before all the upper branches (to the left of center) are cleared away for firewood. There are huge branches for benches, and its hollow base for a shelter, bar, whatever. The boughs are more than two feet thick. We’ll leave the base and the biggest boughs as an almost encircling enclosure for our meeting place. A good place to meet friends during this pandemic.

A friend sent a New Yorker cartoon they’d seen the same day: a largish oak fallen next to its standing mates, saying: “God, it feels good to lie down!”

After 300+ years, Our Oak must have felt the same.

But he’ll still be enjoyed and celebrated, for at least another 20 years, long after I’ve gone.

I do hope I do not live anywhere near as long as my mother, Olga, about whom you’ll read more here. She lived to be 101 and 10 months, before her body, much like the Oak, just gave out. But she inspired a novel, by me.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.