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Caleb Alexander is:True to the Game

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message 1: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (streetheart_) | 115 comments Mod
Some authors dream of a day when their books will land on a bestsellers list. They wonder what it might be like to walk by a newsstand, to pick up the idolized New York Times and see their book on its list. Caleb Alexander needs to wonder no more. According to Mr. Alexander, "I did write Deadly Reigns I, Deadly Reigns II, and Deadly Reigns III. I also wrote True To the Game II, and True To the Game III."
But wait, you say those titles look familiar? You've heard of them, seen them on the carts of street vendors, but his name doesn't ring a bell? Well Caleb Alexander is a famous ghostwriter to the best of the best. You name them and he has probably written for them at one point or another. Although more famous for the works with his own name on them, Eastside, Two Thin Dimes, and the Amazon Short, Me And My Bitch, due out later this month. His resume includes several screenplays, television pilots, and hundreds of articles for various magazines. This Converse, Texas resident was also handpicked by Zane, the queen of African American Erotica, to launch her latest publishing imprint, Strebor on the Streetz.
The accolades are endless, for a man whose legend, until recently lived among hushed message board chats. Caleb decided to pursue a different path. Although fed up, Caleb continued to uphold the unspoken code of ghostwriting and never uttered a word to the public about his role in some of Street Lit's modern day classics. Even after the cat was let out of the bag, Caleb remained poised and professional, denying all accounts of writing any works. But the smoke has cleared and this prolific writer has decided to share the truth with the Urban Book Source about what really happened between him and Ms. Woods and his views on African American fiction.

T.U.B.S.: Do you write in other genres?

Caleb: Definitely. Eastside was Street Lit. Two Thin Dimes is a Hip-Hop love story. Deadly Reigns was mafia and crime. I have some erotica that I’m going to get out there this year. My next novel, called Shot Callers, is going to be Street Lit. And I’m going to do a literary book for publication next year. I write all kinds of shit. Just whatever hits me at the time. I wrote a short story for Amazon Shorts, which will be available in January. It’s hot. It’s Street Lit. I guess to answer the question, yeah. I’m all over the place, which is cool. I believe that my fans are very intelligent and that they’ll follow me and follow my work. What I’ve noticed is that my fans are lovers of African American literature in general, not just the Street Lit part of the genre.

message 2: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (streetheart_) | 115 comments Mod
T.U.B.S.: What is the best way to break into the industry as a ghostwriter?

Caleb: Hard to say. Once people found out what I was doing for Teri, work just started coming my way. I needed to eat, so I took those jobs. I guess a person just has to show what they can do. It costs a lot of money to turn an author’s name into a brand. Publishing companies are always looking for material, for already established authors. It’s a numbers game. Why put out a book by Joe Blow, and only sell five thousand copies, when they can put it out by such and such, and move fifty thousand copies the first month? It’s all about money, and branding. But my advice for most writers is to build yourself up as a brand. It may take a while, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Besides, ghostwriting is not for everyone. Most writers view their books as their babies, and to have someone claim your child as their own, is not something that a lot of artist can stomach. But in the end, to answer the question, you just have to get out there, make the contacts, and show what you can do.

message 3: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (streetheart_) | 115 comments Mod
T.U.B.S.: Rumors have been circulating for a while that you are the man behind Teri Wood's work? Is this true? When and how did you become acquainted with Teri Woods? What is your relationship with her now?

Caleb: Okay, here’s the fifty million dollar answer. I did write Deadly Reigns I, Deadly Reigns II, and Deadly Reigns III. I also wrote True To the Game 2, and True To the Game 3. I have the notes, the e-mails, the contracts, and everything else to prove it. So if she ever denies it, she’s going to look really silly, when I’m sitting here with a notarized contract that says different. Let me just put that out there, in case she gets any ideas.I became acquainted with Teri, right after B-More Careful came out. We became very close. I thought of her and Lou and the kids as family. We argued all the time, fought like cats and dogs, or rather brother and sister, and it was always about money. I guess that I’m a pain freak, because I kept dealing with her, despite our disagreement over Deadly Reigns. Deadly Reigns was always something that we were like, look, we’ll let the lawyers settle that when we get to it. I should have let the lawyers settle it a long time ago. Instead of being like, hey, let’s get this money right now, and deal with the bullshit later.
Teri promised me a lot. At one time, she promised me Teri Woods Publishing. She told me that once she got into films, I could have TWP. She promised me thirty percent of her company. We had a deal, that she would pay me a certain amount of money every month, and that amount would entail, thirty percent of what she was pulling in. She promised me fifty grand, once her multi-million dollar deal with Grand Central went through. Did I ever see it? No. I went up to New York, went and chilled with her and Lou, and she had a yard full of Benzes! I’m like, wait a minute. You play the broke roll with me, but you sitting up here in a 1.8 million dollar crib, with a movie theater in it, and some more shit; A yard full of Benzes, and you feeding me this bullshit every month? It was after Deadly Reigns, when she moved into the Empire State Building. All of that other bullshit that she put out, didn’t buy that house, or move her into the Empire, it was Dutch and Deadly Reigns that paid for all that shit. I helped her get her magazine off the ground. I wrote over fifty articles for that magazine and got paid zero. I was writing all her shit. People would want endorsements and back cover blurbs, and she would e-mail that shit to me, and I would write that shit. I’m not going to set anybody out there, but if you ever got a back cover blurb from Teri, I wrote it. Hell, I was writing her daughter’s speeches when she was running for Ms. Delaware State University, I’m writing all kinds of shit.
My relationship with Teri is bad right now. The last time I spoke to her, was the day after New Years. She was telling me, that she wasn’t going to be able to send me no money in January, or February, but she might be able to in March. She wants me to write this book for her deal with Grand Central, called Alibi. I ain’t writing that shit. What really tore her drawers with me was that fact that she tried to high cap with me in December. Teri don’t know what I got. I went Christmas shopping in October, and was through with that by the beginning of November. But she didn’t know that. She was supposed to send my money for December, and she didn’t. She knows that I have kids. As far as she knows, my kids didn’t get shit for Christmas. And she had the nerve to call me Christmas morning. She is lucky I missed that call. I would’ve invented some words to call her ass! She doesn’t give a shit about me, my family, our contract, or nothing else. So now, since she’s violated, I’m going to let it be known. She couldn’t write her name on a f__king piece of paper to save her life, let alone a book! All that talk about loyalty, is fake. I was loyal to her. Why I remained loyal for so long, I don’t know. It’s just in me to be loyal. I wanted her to do well, I wanted her to change, and I wanted to work for an African American company. You know, I would call her sometimes, and say “Teri, it’s time to run me my issue for this month.” And she would tell me she didn’t have it, but then call me a week later from the Bahamas. Or call me two days later from Disneyland. Hell, my kids want to go to Disneyland too! And the crazy thing about it is that True to the Game 2 made the New York Times Bestsellers list. It was the first time in history that a Street Lit book has made that list, and the first time an African American title has made the list, without being a hardcover first. When she called me, do you think she said thank you? No.
So here is where Teri and I are at right now. She’s talking about Kwame broke his contract over Dutch. Which by the way, I want to tell my brother, I’m glad you did what you did. That was some gangster ass shit, kinfolk! And I’m sitting over here on a couple of contracts that she has broken with me. So have your attorney get in touch with me, and I’ll give him a copy, and a deposition. So when she walks into court talking about a breached contract, you can slap mine in front of her. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Anyway, my lawyers are going to get at her about stealing Deadly Reigns from me. She was so shady with it, that she didn’t even tell me the book was out. I had to find out from a friend who showed me the magazine ad, with her name on my book. My lawyers are also going to get with her about violating our ghostwriting agreement. She didn’t pay me all my money. And since I ghostwrote True 2 and True 3, I hope that the lawyers get with Grand Central, and let them know that they are f__king with materials from a contract that she breached.
I really want to set her ass out, and tell all of the authors out there what she has said about them, but I won’t do that at this time. Teri just needs to realize, that I know where all of the bones are buried, all of the shady shit that she’s done over the years. She even tried to breach her and Kwame’s contract, and have me write Dutch III. She also thought about going back and re-writing Dutch II, and adding an ending to it, so there would be no need for Dutch III. Man, I know everything. Why she would want to trip with me is crazy, anyway, on to the next question.

message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (streetheart_) | 115 comments Mod
T.U.B.S.: Can you explain the process of ghostwriting? How do you work with clients? (Ex: Are you given a storyline/concept? Do you just submit a previously written project? Etc.)

Caleb: Sometimes you are approached by a publisher, sometimes by an author or individual. Most of the time, when you provide the story, it’s to a publisher. And the times when you’re working with an author or individual, they’ll have the storyline or concept.

T.U.B.S.: What do you think of the quality of writers in this genre?

Caleb: Well, in order to answer this question, I have to say this first: I don’t read a lot right now, but the books that I have read lately, have all been banging. K’wan, Treasure, and JM are my dudes, I love ’em to death. Those are my kinfolks; I talk to them on a regular basis. Matter of fact, I talked to Treasure today, I talked to K’wan yesterday, and Wahida the day before that. So, those are the books that I read. I read my peoples books and of course, they are all top shelf joints. So it’s hard for me to gauge the quality of writers in the genre. The people I mess with are all platinum. Other than them, I really don’t read a lot, and that’s for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t have the time. Two, I don’t really read books in the same genre, because sometimes, people have a way of forgetting where something came from, and subconsciously incorporating some of those elements into their own stories. And a lot of times, it’s not done on purpose. You just forget, and it happens. So to avoid that, I just keep my head in my computer writing.But I do want to say that I am optimistic about the state of African American literature as a whole. It is very diverse, with many sub-genres to choose from and with a wide variety of writers. When we are able to tell our stories, with such a wide variety of diversity, it adds to the richness of our culture. Damn, that was a politically correct answer, wasn’t it? (LOL) But it’s true.

T.U.B.S.: Can you tell us your take on the publishing beefs going on? Are they justified?

Caleb: You know, it’s hard for me to speak on a lot of the beefs that are going on in the industry right now. I have my own beef with a certain person whose name begins with a T and ends with -eri. I know her side, and Kwame’s side, of their beef. Some beefs are justified. Some publishers are shady. It’s f__ked up that we can’t deal with our own people straight up. But you’re going to have these kinds of issues anytime you’re dealing with creativity and a lot of money. It’s just how we choose to handle our beefs. A lot of us are from the street, so we take it to the street. We beef, instead of trying to bring resolution to our differences. Me, I don’t want to beef. I want my money. I want her to stop eating off my books, and I’m going to let them folks in the courtroom decide if it’s legal to put your name on somebody else’s books. And then, I’m going to let them decide how much someone should have to pay for doing that. Who knows, maybe I can have a yard full a Benzes, and take my kids to Disney this year. As for the others, I can’t really speak on another man or woman’s beef. I don’t know all sides of the stories, but I will say this. Settling it in the streets, or just talking about it, doesn’t mean anything. Get your paper. The Mafia doesn’t even settle beef in the streets no more. They don’t even use guns anymore; they use fountain pens and lawyers. It’s all about money. If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.

T.U.B.S.: Where do you see Street Fiction 10–30 years from now? What is your response to those bashing the genre?

Caleb: I see it still going strong; like rap music back in the day. People kept on predicting rap music’s demise. The truth of the matter is, as long as you have people living in dejected conditions and poverty, you’re going to have artistic expression about it. If you want to get rid of the books and music about the street life, then you’re going to have to get rid of the conditions that foster these types of environments. And to be honest with you, it’s kind of offensive for someone to say that people can live in these kinds of environments, but they don’t want to hear about it. I can go through these things—police harassment, brother getting killed, my child in the street hustling, my grandmother catching a stray bullet in a drive-by, etc., but I just can’t write about them? That’s ridiculous.
And to those who are bashing the Street Lit genre based on perceived quality, I say to them; shut the ___ up, and get out of my face. They are so worried about someone else’s perceptions of us, and what we’re doing. They are so uncomfortable, and unsure of themselves, that they’re still looking over their shoulders for Massa’s approval. This is our thing, it’s our form of expression, and if we want to tell our stories in a certain way, then that’s our business. They can take their house n___a a___s back up on the porch. Since they are so worried about vocabulary, and depth, and story lines, then put their pen game to the test. I’m a Street Lit writer, so let’s see what they working with. UBS can hold the competition, and we’ll see what’s really happening. Make it open to authors who have a published book out, and have us turn in ten, fifteen, twenty chapters, or a whole book—of contemporary African American fiction—and see whose shit is the best. I’ll write in their genre! Let’s see what they’re working with.

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