An author's 'dream' deferred is realized 2011 - By Kari Williams
Twenty years after penning the book, SIUE mass communications alumna Cathey Newhouse has self-published “The Dream Mystery.”
The book is a teen mystery about searching for buried treasure. The main character Elizabeth Cox finds papers from her uncle about buried treasure, and Elizabeth and her friends are determined to solve the mystery.
“I put it up and went to school, and graduated and all that. And now we’re here,” Newhouse said. “It was that simple. I just sat down and started writing, which is kind of the way I just do it. Get a thought and go with it.”
“The Dream Mystery” was Newhouse’s first book and is based on a family story about Newhouse’s uncle but is mixed with fiction.
“[My uncle Jesse] believed his father had a prophetic dream about buried treasure,”
Newhouse said. Newhouse said she looked into similarities and tried to find relationships in the real world to turn the family story into a book. She said she uses the town name, “Christmasville” because of Red Bud, where she currently lives, and Elba, Ill.
“[Red Bud] is so lit up that if you look at it from the sky…you can see a huge cross. We go all out at Christmas,”
Newhouse said. Newhouse said she sold about 30 copies of “The Dream Mystery,” and her biggest customer was her mother.
“She bought four or five [books] just for friends that were kind of in the book, but not,” Newhouse said. “I based the characters on my childhood friends that lived there, and they loved it. And everybody was so proud.”
“I wanted to [publish ‘The Dream Mystery’] for years…I found Xlibris [and they were] offering a deal I just couldn’t refuse,” Newhouse said.
Dale Newhouse, Cathey Newhouse’s husband, said publishing her work is something she has wanted to do for a long time and now that she has the opportunity to do it, he fully supports her.
Cathey’s book is self-published through Xlibris and she said Dale and she are the only ones who edited the book. Cathey said the two of them edited the book because she did not have anyone else available.
“I just took what I’d learned from school, but mostly the newspaper and applied those principles and AP style,” Cathey said.
According to Cathey, the most challenging aspect of editing her own book was trying to decide what was necessary and what was not.
Dale said he did not have any challenges editing “The Dream Mystery” because he wrote in high school English classes and had to do a lot of proofreading.
Dale said, in a way, he felt bad for Cathey because it has taken so long for something she put her heart and soul into to get published.
“The most rewarding part [of helping edit the book] was just seeing her face light up when she got it done,” Dale said.
“It’s nice to see she is finally getting somewhere with it instead of [the book] sitting in file cabinet sitting away unread … she got to pursue a passion and it’s making her happy,” Dale said, “And if she’s happy, I’m happy.”
Cathey is now taking stories and poems she wrote when her children were younger and self-publishing them.
“Most of what I’m publishing right now is stuff I did whenever my kids were [younger]. I did this so I wouldn’t lose my mind,” Cathey said. “I pulled it out and decided I still like it.”
Cathey had written a book called “Dandelions and Roses,” which consisted of short stories and poetry, but said she is splitting it up because she is publishing the short stories separately.
“If I do [publish] ‘Dandelions and Roses,’ it’ll be a book of poetry, where originally it was short stories and poetry,” Cathey said.
Cathey is now publishing on smashwords.com, an e-book self-publishing site, and is working on a children’s book called, “Cheshire and the Magic Squares.” She has three books on smashwords.com: “Adventures of Bob and Steve,” “Just Another Day” and “Grandma Said.”
Newhouse said all of her work was written prior to attending SIUE. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 1995. Before she began self-publishing, Newhouse worked as a Red Bud Campus reporter (now SWIC). She also worked as a page designer for World Jewish News and the Suburban Journals.
While writing for World Jewish News, Newhouse said she covered an event where the Pope attended. “It was pretty awesome actually,” she said. “I covered the teen jubilee, I think it was called, and it was the first time I felt like a real reporter.”
After working in the industry, Newhouse said she wanted to get a degree in journalism and mass communications, which is why she came to SIUE.
“Between that and working for the newspaper, I got a better understanding of how to write,” Newhouse said. “[I learned to be] more concise.” While at SIUE, Newhouse said mass communications professors Bill Ward and Nora Baker taught her how to write.
“I thought I knew [how to write], but then I found out I didn’t know,” Newhouse said, “and then as time [has] progressed I found out how much I do and don’t know [about writing].”
Former mass communications professor Nora Baker has not seen Cathey Newhouse—who she remembers for her laugh and “that red hair”—since graduation, but said, as a person, she was a delightful student.
“She always asked very intelligent questions. She was enthusiastic and [had] a wicked sense of humor,” Baker said.
As a professor, Baker said she was a stickler, insisting on good writing.
“I figured I’d be short changing a student by letting them think everything was fine … some students had terrible, terrible problems. Cathey wasn’t one of them,” Baker said. Baker said she could help Newhouse with sentence structure, but she already was a decent writer.
Baker said Newhouse’s self-publishing is wonderful.
“In this day and age, everybody is self-published,” Baker said. “They have to because publishing at big publication houses in New York and Boston is totally unrealistic, unless you have a lot of friends in high places.”
However, Baker said sometimes self-publishing can be a stepping stone to getting published by a bigger publishing house.
“If you toss them a manuscript and say you self-published three other books, that shows initiative,” Baker said. “You’re worthy of being published, and they might give you a look.”
Additional information and reporting contributed by Wendy Wood.