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Angelo

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    I have been telling stories for as long as I can remember, and have always wanted to be a novelist. In my opinion, there is no greater calling.

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  1. Comparables: World Gone By meets Who They Was in this 90,000 plot-driven and character-rich debut novel set in modern day New York. Hook: A gun-runner for an urban gang sets out to uncover the mystery of his best friend’s death and triggers a chain of events that jeopardizes everyone in his orbit, including him. Short Pitch: Marlon Brown is a gun-runner for the Bloods, whose best friend has been gunned down outside of the gang's established territory. Though the whisper stream comes alive with speculation about who did the deed and why, conjecture isn't enough for Marlon. He has to know. But asking questions breaks every rule of the street, and in doing so, he turns up the flame under long-simmering tensions and resentments. When the tenuous truce between the rival gangs is shattered, a bloody war of retribution threatens to kill them all. The smart move would be to get out of Dodge, but Marlon’s need for revenge overrides logic and self-preservation. Unaware both sides have agreed to a peace treaty or that its sole term is Marlon’s life, he keeps probing deeper. The closer he comes to the killer, the closer his own death looms. Prose Sample: The whisper stream told that TJ was dead. Shot twice in the face, he’d been left to die in a dirty gutter. No one knew how it had happened or why. They only knew it was true. TJ’s body was found under the elevated train tracks bisecting Flushing Avenue, outside Bloods’ territory. The whisper stream had it that TJ and Freddie Marks had gotten into it over guns and drugs, and things had gone sideways, and that was why TJ was dead, but Marlon wasn’t buying that noise. TJ didn’t deal drugs, and he didn’t truck with guns. TJ was a knife man. Everyone knew that. “You know the problem with guns, man?” TJ had once said. “Guns run outta bullets. You run outta bullets, and you got no more bullets, your ass be grass, and the Man be the lawnmower. That shit don’t never happen with a knife. You got a knife; you always got a weapon. You got two knives; you got some serious action. “Guns? I don’t need no guns. So, don’t be talking to me ‘bout no stinking guns.” This last was said with a distinctly bad Mexican accent, TJ trying like hell to channel the gold-hatted bandito from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. TJ loved watching movies, new and vintage, and loved quoting them even more. So, whatever had resulted in TJ’s death, it hadn’t involved guns. But Marlon thought there might be some truth to the part about Freddie Marks. TJ, Marlon and Freddie had history—none of it good—going back a long way. It was suicide for Marlon to cross Atlantic Avenue and venture into Saints’ territory, but what had to be, had to be. TJ and Marlon were tight; running buddies whose collective mantra was “my brotha from anotha motha”. Rumor wasn’t going to be enough for Marlon. He didn’t want to listen to “I heard” or “I think”. Marlon had to know, because when your best boy got killed, you owed it him—and yourself—to find out who’d done the killing and why, and then to do something about it. Freddie Marks kept an apartment on Grove Street, south of Bushwick Avenue, the titular boundary separating Bloods’ territory from Saints’. The buffer zone was established a few weeks after Black Manny’s younger brother went down in a hail of bullets while on his way to the convenience store. The other Bloods vowed vengeance, but Black Manny shocked them by suing for peace instead. They didn’t understand the reasoning behind the decision, but once the overture was accepted, they breathed a collective sigh of relief. The on-going war was taking its toll—in life and revenue. Escalating an already vicious conflict wouldn’t have done either side any good. So, in the summer of that year, Black Manny and Dale Hixon, the Saints’ commander, signed the agreement drawn up by The Professor, and each side retired to its respective side of the agreed-upon boundary. People being people, skirmishes still flared up, but they were few, and quickly resolved.
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  3. Living in Saint’s Hood 1. Story statement a. The mission of the novel’s protagonist is to discover, regardless of consequences, the identity of the person who has murdered his best friend. 2. Antagonist sketch a. The inner city is controlled by urban gangs, each with its own clearly delineated boundaries. While attempting to discover who killed his friend, the protagonist violates the one central tenet of the inner city – crossing established boundaries. Considered an implicit act of war, it’s compounded by the protagonist’s unintentional killing of a rival gang member. This breach of established protocol not only paints a target on the protagonist’s back, but also draws his fellow gang members into a situation they did not ask for and do not want. 3. Breakout title a. Option 1 – Living in Saint’s Hood b. Option 2 – A Tale of Saints and Bloods c. Option 3 – TJ’s Dead 4. Identify Comparable Authors/Titles a. Living in Saint’s Hood is comparable to Donald Goines novel Inner City Hoodlum, a work that tells the story of a character seeking vengeance on behalf of one they have loved and lost. Set in the inner city, it reveals how the environment and culture in which one is raised influences one’s thoughts, emotions and actions. b. Living in Saint’s Hood also has echoes of Streets Have No Kings by Jaquavis Coleman, who tells the story of two men fighting for ascendancy within their narrowly confined world. The prize the men struggle for is small (and contrasted against the larger world) and insignificant, for the main characters, this small piece of something is everything to them both. 5. Hook Line a. There are rumors aplenty as to why TJ was murdered, but Marlon doesn’t want to hear them. He wants to know and nothing – not his wife, the police, or even a rival gang – is going to stand in his way. 6. Sketch the inner conditions for the protagonist’s inner conflict a. The primary conflict in Living in Saint’s Hood is the protagonist’s quest to find out who murdered his best friend. In order to do so, he must flaunt norms that put him at odds with the other members of his crew and the culture of the inner city in which he lives. b. The secondary conflict is the unspoken, though ingrained, treatment of women. Expected to be loyal and subservient to the men in their lives, they fight for a measure of respect and dignity in the face of almost insurmountable odds. 7. Setting a. The time is now; the setting Brooklyn, New York. In a borough filled with a diversity of racial and ethnic identities, urban gangs have established individual areas of influence, which are jealously (and ruthlessly) guarded. As the novel progresses, the reader learns that geography is just as important a character as is the protagonist or any of the secondary characters. The urban setting, its culture, and its unwritten, but nevertheless inviolate, rules determine how the characters act and respond to the events in their lives.
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