Gatlin releases first novel, 'Sunday After Sunday'

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 6/9/19

Everyone has a plethora of memories from growing up, but not everyone has the time or stamina to catalog them. Connie Gatlin, in her new book, “Sunday After Sunday,” has compiled those memories.

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Gatlin releases first novel, 'Sunday After Sunday'

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Everyone has a plethora of memories from growing up, but not everyone has the time or stamina to catalog them.

Connie Gatlin, in her new book, “Sunday After Sunday,” has compiled those memories.

Focusing on family stories Gatlin recalled from her early life, “Sunday After Sunday” recounts nearly all true stories, with a few bits of fiction added sporadically.

“It’s a cohesive story. It begins with my making a visit to this small church from my childhood, then it tells these stories that are themselves connected to life situations,” Gatlin said.

One story she especially remembers is that of a “whuppin” she received after church. The grace her father showed her and the impact the “whuppin” had on her ties into grace she understands as an adult, as well as understanding God’s grace.

This marks the very first book Gatlin has written and published. Writing, however, is nothing new to her, as she’s responsible for penning the backstories of each of the living history characters at the Museum Center at 5ive Points.

Gatlin became interested in living history when her daughter, at a young age, was reading the “American Girl” books and had numerous questions about history.

“I got to thinking if the children of Cleveland and Bradley County had characters they could quiz, meet or talk with, they’d learn about history in an interactive and effective way from a very young age,” Gatlin said.

She describes writing as a dream that won’t leave her alone, and recounted how her friends had been telling her for some time to write a book, or they’d have to inscribe on her tombstone, “She wanted to write.”

When she first started on the book, she attended a Christian writers’ conference, where she met a literary agent named Bruce Barber. He was intrigued by her book idea and set up a literary appointment with her.

Being intimidated and uncertain of what Barber would expect, Gatlin told him a story about her uncle. After laughing out loud, Barber asked for another story, then told Gatlin to send him her work.

“He  told me, ‘You don’t realize that I meet 100 people before I tell one to send me their stuff,’ so that was a big compliment there,” Gatlin said. “He gave me lots of great ideas, and helped me decide last fall that it was time to write this.”

The writing process only took around a year, but the overall organizing, proofreading, securing a publisher and other editing started in 2014.

Gatlin used a local editor named Wendy Brown, who she describes as exacting, yet excellent. The title refers to the fact  many of Gatlin’s stories and best memories take place at the church she and her family attended when she was young, North Sweetwater Baptist Church.

“Sunday After Sunday” is considered a nonfiction book, and to spread awareness of the title, Gatlin is hosting a book signing on June 21 at the Johnston-Tucker Unit, formerly known as the History Branch of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.

“Life is a journey. We’ve all got stories. Write those stories down to leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren. Learn from your stories. The Lord sends us issues. It’s our duty to find our path through him with His guidance and His help,” she said.

She’s received a good response from early readers of the book, including her friends and family. Dr. Allan Lockerman even wrote the foreword for the book.

Despite the positive response and nature of her work, Gatlin said she was initially very reluctant to write “Sunday After Sunday,” because it opened up her life to the public, as well as opening up countless memories — both good and bad.

At the moment, Gatlin has three more books she’s  working on. She  has outlined them to be standalone books, aside from one she plans to use to start a series.

"Sunday After Sunday"  can be purchased at Gatlin’s business, The Shop at Cleveland City Ballet. She is currently in the process of making it available on amazon.com as well.

For more information, go to sundayaftersunday.com.

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