By JONATHAN GALLARDO, Gillette News Record
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) – The past nine months have been quick for Paul Phillips.
Circuit Court judge during the day, he has a lot to do from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But in his spare time, he writes a series of thrillers under the pseudonym James Chandler.
Her first book, “Misjugged”, was published on November 10. He spent about four years working on it before publishing it. Her second novel, âOne and Done,â was released in February.
And her third book, “False Evidence”, is due out on October 12. He just finished writing it, reports the Gillette News Record.
All three books center on Sam Johnstone, a veteran who works at a law firm in a small town in Wyoming hoping for a fresh start.
The audiobook version of his first novel just came out last week. It is read by James Anderson Foster, an award-winning narrator, and is available on Audible, Amazon’s audiobook service.
âIt was kinda wild, to hear something that you wrote, played live, it was amazing,â Phillips said. “I can’t think of a better word than that, it was just wild.”
He said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the reception his books have received.
Together, her first two books have over 8,600 reviews on Amazon. The first book has over 5,500 reviews and an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, while the second book has approximately 3,200 reviews and an average rating of 4.4.
The number of people leaving a review is a small percentage of the total number of people who have read the book, so Phillips is amazed the numbers are where they are at.
âIt’s a little mind-boggling to see the number of reviews and the people who took the time to read something that I wrote,â he said.
Some writers might be tempted to dive into Amazon’s critics’ den, but Phillips is not one of them.
âFor my own sanity, I have never sat down and read reviews,â he said.
Even though 85-90% of the reviews are positive, he knows that if he read them, he would only worry about the small percentage who didn’t like the book.
âI’m just going to hurt myself,â he said. âBesides, the book is finished, there is nothing I can do to fix it now. “
Phillips receives letters and emails from judges and lawyers across the country who have read his book. He will read them, and a warm review from someone in his field of work means a lot, he said.
His first two books have been out for months, but they’ve been the mainstay of several of Amazon’s bestsellers. While Phillips doesn’t pay particular attention to reviews, he does keep an eye on the charts.
As of Friday afternoon, âMisjuggedâ was # 167 overall, regardless of genre, on the Amazon Kindle store, and # 39 in the thriller genre. It also ranked # 1 in financial thrillers, # 2 in legal thrillers, # 3 in crime series, and # 3 in political thrillers. “One and Done” was No. 450 overall, No. 7 in legal thrillers, No. 6 in crime series, and No. 5 in political thrillers.
“It’s a little surreal to see books that I wrote there with people who are household names, who are well known in the field, (like) the Grishams and the Connellys,” he said. he declares.
Initially, Phillips didn’t do much to promote his book, as he didn’t want to be seen as using his position as a judge as a way to sell books.
But earlier this year, he contacted a national judicial ethics commission to find out if it was acceptable for him to reveal his identity. The group issued a notice saying he could disclose his name, as long as he didn’t use his day job to increase sales with his job as a judge.
âI can use my name as long as I don’t use my position to sell books,â he said. “I wouldn’t do a book signing with a dress or something like that.”
But even with the OK of the national group, Phillips does not do everything to promote himself. He’s never been one to brag about himself.
âI don’t have a trunk full of books in my car, I’m not trying to get the library to do a book signing,â he said, adding that he would totally be. happy if he never had to. a book signing.
“It will never be a strength of mine,” he said.
In January 2020, he signed a contract with Severn House Publishers to write four books. This contract has now been extended to six pounds. He has to publish a book every nine months, much shorter than the four years it took him to write his first book.
He got used to writing fast and said the hardest part of the process comes after finishing a book.
âThe hardest part for me is coming up with the idea for the next book,â he said.
It takes him about two months to brainstorm ideas before choosing one to move forward with.
âThese guys who wrote 40, 50 books, it’s amazing,â he said. “To have so many ideas, I will never be able to.”
Once he chooses an idea, he will spend about four months on a first draft and then move on to two months reviewing.
Phillips said the more he writes, the better he describes the book from the start to keep it “attached.”
As someone who doesn’t write in a linear fashion – he jumps into the book whenever he finds inspiration for a scene – the outline helps him keep track of everything that happens in the 300s or so. 400 pages of the manuscript.
He serves as an advanced reader for his publishing house, which has also served him well in a way.
âI read more critically than before,â he said. “I find myself thinking ‘I wish I had thought about it’ or ‘I wish I could describe a scene so clearly, in so much detail.'”
Phillips’ recreational reading consists exclusively of military history. Before becoming an author, he read a lot of legal thrillers, but now that he writes in this genre, he has stayed far from it.
âI don’t want to be accused of poaching someone else’s idea,â he said. “And I would probably be intimidated anyway.”
He said that âMisjuggedâ will always have a special place in his heart because it was his first, but he thinks his âOne and Done,â in which a varsity athlete is accused of murder, is better crafted.
And he hopes to be able to make a success of the landing with his third book, “False Evidence”.
“I think I have a really good idea on this one, and I think there are some really good twists and turns, and I hope I can write it down as I think the idea does. merit, âhe said.
He said he didn’t feel much pressure from readers to live up to the expectations set by the first two books.
âThere is more internal pressure,â he says. âYou put your name on something, then you want it to be as good as possible. “
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