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Judy Seils, (aka Judy L), has offered us an unusual collection of stories which run the gamut from traditional episode commentaries to a unique AU series. Her vision of the post-TSbyBS years involves numerous original characters, marriages and other sentinel-guide pairs. All can be accessed here. (archivist's note: author email found at author's page.)

Welcome Judy!

Thank you for agreeing to share a little about yourself and your writing experiences with the TS community who visit the Cascade Library.

I. Who are you?

Do you use a pen name? If so, why, and how did you decide on the one you use? Do you have more than one pen name?

Well, sort of. I use JudyL, but sign my stories with my full name a lot of the time. I tried to think up something 'cute' or relevant, but nothing came to mind. My middle name is Lynn… so there you go. *G*

Would you tell us where you live?

I live in Houston, TX.

Would you tell us a little about your life?

I was an Air Force brat, although we always seemed to end up back in Texas. Born and bred in Texas, we moved to California, then the Azores, Portugal, back to Austin, over to Saudi Arabia, back to Lubbock and then to O'Fallon, Illinois my sophomore year. I went to Texas A&M to 'become a vet' but ended up having to get a 'real' job after four years. Although I was an honor roll student in high school, nothing prepared me for college. I love to read, but found that 'having' to read large amounts of 'facts' that I really wasn't interested in did not help me learn what I needed. I worked for an electronics distributor for four years, then moved to Houston and finally ended up working for a local veterinarian. *G* I still had that urge to work with animals. That was almost 15 years ago and I'm still there as office manager/girl Friday.

Your fanfic site has a portion of it devoted to dogs, appropriate training methods and even competitive sports. You wrote about 'flyball' in the ''Vet Series" where Jim's love interest is a devotee. How did you get involved in this and has your fanfic writing helped inform a wider audience about vital issues in the ethical and compassionate methods of pet training?

I adopted my first cat in college and another in Austin before moving to Houston. Less than a year after I started working there, I adopted a puppy who started me on a new path in life. Together we learned about dog training, Flyball and Freestyle dance. I started working with a trainer and soon was assisting her in teaching obedience. I now hold classes myself, teaching puppy and basic obedience with clicker training. I've finally found that niche I was looking for. Animal behavior, particularly dog and cat behavior, fascinates me and I've discovered that I love to learn whatever I can about it.

I honestly don't know if my writing has helped people understand more about pet training. I HOPE so. *G* I'm certainly willing to answer any questions people might have about it and clicker training in particular. Clicker training isn't a gimmick, it's scientifically based, and proven to help teach our pets 40% faster than any other method. And the pets LOVE it.

I do know that writing fanfiction has helped me become a better writer and editor. I do a lot of writing for work, for handouts and informative brochures for our clients and my obedience classes.

What work, volunteer or paid, do you do?

As I mentioned, I work at the veterinary clinic full time and teach dog training part-time. I don't really have time for volunteer work, but since I give 'free' training advice to any one who asks, maybe that could be considered volunteering.

Do you have any pro-fic writing experience or aspirations?

I have started a series of novels - yeah, I don't think small *G* - based on a fantasy D&D type world. Actually started it in college and finished the first one about ten years ago. Sent it to a few publishers, and finally just posted it to the net. It's not on my site now, since I had to change providers a few years back and had less space. I actually have plans for the entire series, but looking at it now, I realize I used too many things that belong to 'others' in the story, and it couldn't be published as is. I hope to eventually rework it, but for now, I'm happy writing fanfic.

II. When and how did you become a TS fan?

When did you first see or hear about The Sentinel?

I saw the original airing of TS. I remember crying my eyes out at the end of Sentinel Too, part one. *G* Yelling at the TV, 'you can't stop there!!!'

Why did you decide to write fan fiction about these characters? Had you read other authors and stories that introduced you to the series and/or fan fiction?

Kind of a strange story here. I started attending Revelcon as a vendor in 1999. I had known about fanfic zines through Star Trek for years, but never really got into reading them. I don't recall when I finally started searching out fanfic on the net - 2002? - but I do remember writing bits of my first fic at Revelcon in 2003. I do know I had read some online before I started writing.

What do you think the readership finds most interesting in gen TS fiction?

Definitely the friendship. Even though Jim and Blair are so different and don't agree on a lot of things, they still have this chemistry. You can just tell they are good friends. And even with the ups and downs and fights, in the end, they're there for each other.

What do you appreciate most when you read TS fiction?

I like to see fic where that friendship is explored. H/C is great, but my favorites are when we get a glimpse into what makes Jim and Blair's friendship so special.

Who are your favorite gen TS authors and why?

Ahh, that's a hard question, there are so many. Arianna, Cindy Combs, TAE, Rimilod, Shedoc... the list goes on. There are so many terrific authors out there. My favorites are the ones that manage to touch my heart with their stories. They really show that bond of friendship between the guys.

III. About being a writer ...?

Why do you write?

I write mainly for myself and a greedy need for feedback. *G* But really, I write what I'd like to read. The feedback's just a bonus.

What was the first story you wrote, and how did it feel to first place it into the public eye? Do you write in other fandoms besides TS?

My first TS story? Actually, that was the first story I put in the 'public eye'… It was 'Joined Soul and Body' finished in March 2003. I don't really know what I expected when I posted it. I was nervous, but really it was about sharing the story with others. I just about had a cow when BAY had that guest shot on Grey's Anatomy and he was pinned to a young girl with a metal rod!! I was so excited, that was 'my' storyline and they'd used Bruce in it. Too bad it wasn't 'my' script. *G*

I've recently been tempted to the dark side; that is, away from TS. Early on, I swore I'd stick to one fandom, knowing if I caved in to others I'd be in trouble... Boy was I right! *G* Thanks to Cindy Combs' lovely MacGyver crossovers, I've been lured into writing Magnificent Seven fic. I love writing crossovers. I have covered quite a range, including CSI, Star Trek, SG1, M7, Quantum Leap and even the 6 Million Dollar Man. (I really love that one! I do have a couple of unfinished Star Trek fic on my computer that I started... wow, about 20 years ago. Maybe I'll finish them one day; ST was my first true dip into fandom.

You received a nomination for Outstanding Author/Classic Author in the 2008 LMFAs. What do you think/hope readers most appreciate in your stories?

I was so honored to be nominated for that. I hope people appreciate that I try to keep the characters 'voice' true. Most of my TS stories take place after TSbyBS. I like to write about what happens after the series ended.

How do you decide whether to write in a first person POV or third person as a narrator?

I don't consciously decide to write one way or the other. When I have done first person, it's because my muse stepped up and slapped me in the head and said 'this is how it's going to be!'

Have you ever had a writing coach?

Hmmm, I took a mail-order class once. It was on how to write children's books, didn't finish it. *G* I also took a fiction writing class in college. The professor didn't really get into the whole scifi/fantasy thing.

Do you work with a beta? Why or why not?

Oh yes! I have the most wonderful beta! CherylR; we're cousins so she can't get rid of me! *G* I roped her into fanfic very early into my fic writing career for that very reason. I needed someone to proof for mistakes, typos and flow. I was a horrible editor. Thanks to Cheryl I'm much better now, but I still rely on her to push and pull my stories into shape. She has a great knack for finding the phrase or word I'm looking for.

Once I've gotten part or all of a story - (I'm constantly teasing her with tidbits, *G* Hi Cheryl!) - I'll send it to her and then she sends me back thoughts, or calls me and we talk things through. Many, many times she's helped me work through a rough spot in a story, listened to my 'plans' for it and helped tweak the stubborn ones into shape.

What is your process for determining when your story is ready for posting?

When Cheryl gives me a thumbs up... well, mostly. When I post without running it by her first, I always end up going back and fixing something. *G* I don't post Works In Progress. Sometimes stories with cliffhangers if I know the sequel is forthcoming, but never WIPs. It's a strong, fast rule of mine. For me, the story must be complete, flow well and be mostly free of typos and spelling errors. It's amazing to me though that I can still find typos years later on some of them. I blame it on Gremlins.

What genres of TS fiction are you most comfortable writing, choosing from canon,AU, case and action, drama, humor, horror, slice of life, hurt/comfort? Why?

I have to put this question back on my muse. I write what comes to me, not consciously picking a genre. I think I've done a bit of all of them except maybe the horror. I'm most comfortable writing a story when I know where I want to go with it. I don't always have a complete plan. I do like slice of life, tend to do a lot of those. And the case and action stories are fun to write, but they can take a lot of work. I spend a lot of time researching for some of them to make sure they are at least mostly realistic.

If you were to write a completely new AU for these characters, what would it demand of them? You have already delved deeply in this genre with your series, a cross-over with SG-1.

Funny you should mention that. I'm working on a new AU that will be used for TS and M7 (and who knows what else? *G*) It's set in a post-apocalyptic era. Jim is known as a Sentinel and the first fics will be a first meeting stories for both fandoms. I'm trying to get both of them done (yes, working simultaneously) very soon for the first post. For a new AU, I want to bring a fresh look at the characters and how they relate to the world they're in. There will be a few surprises and a few familiar faces.

I'm still planning on more for too. There's a method to my madness; I just wish I could figure it out. *G*

Which among your own works is your favorite and why?

Hmmmm, that's a hard one. It may sound strange, but I'm most proud of 'Eye for an Eye' the Six Million Dollar Man crossover. A lot of research went into that story to make it as 'realistic' as possible. There's a lot of action, angst and h/c in it. I think a lot of people may have skipped over it because of the crossover, but it was written as a serious fic and I think because of the time and effort I put into it, it's one of my favorites.

Which of your stories are you less positive about, why? Have you had the urge to revise any of your stories? Which ones?

One story I posted that I really wasn't satisfied with is 'Undercover Assassin'. I wanted to go into more detail with Blair undercover and for some reason the story stalled on me. It's complete as is, but I do have plans to revise it eventually. Just waiting for the muse to talk to me.

Is there a genre you would like to write as a way of stretching your wings as a fanfic author? Is there a type of story or specific plot that you wish you could write, but feel is beyond you? Do you think more time and/or practice in writing would allow you to tackle your dream project?

I would love to be able to write humor better. I think I manage a few moments of it here and there, but to sit down and write a story, like some of them I've read, that makes you laugh from start to finish, would be cool. I think you have to have that funny bone in you to be able to do that though. But who knows, my muse is quite eclectic.

If I had more time, sure. I'd sit down and flesh out that story/novel idea and work toward getting it published. Unfortunately, for that to happen, I'd have to win the lottery. *G*

You have created a veritable legion of enduring OCs in your stories, from wives to other sentinel and guide pairs. Do you find creating an OC particularly challenging or essential in the writing of a well established fandom?

'Legion'! *G* You're right, there are a lot of them. Some of them started off based on real people, I will admit, but won't mention names. For me, creating the OC isn't necessarily hard, but making them seem real and not one-dimensional is important, and can definitely be challenging. They don't all have to have a detailed background, but some small amount of humanizing, even for the bad guys can make an OC come to life.

How do you feel about feedback and concrit from your readers?

I love it! I've been very fortunate to receive wonderful feedback from readers through the years. Sometimes they've pointed out errors for me (thank you!) that helped fix a point of 'truth' in the story; I do like to keep things 'real' within the realm of fiction. And others have lead me to writing sequels of stories that I hadn't considered. I'm grateful for all the kind words and any constructive criticism.

We really appreciate this glimpse into the writing process for a long-time member of the community. Thanks, Judy!

Last updated 6/1/09 igr