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Thread: September Activities 2010

  1. #1
    jenny b
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    September Activities 2010

    Your challenge: thunderstorms.
    I'm watching one outside at the moment, and I thought I'd make this month nice and simple for you. Be creative!

    Rules/Guidelines:

    • Drabble can be between 250-800 words.
    • Content should not be any higher than a 3rd-5th Years rating.
    • All content that would require a warning on the MNFF Archive should be labelled appropriately.
    • This thread is for responses only. If you have a question, PM me.
    • Responses must be posted by September 30th.
    • Please post using this format:
      Title:
      Word Count:
    • As with all activities within the SPEW forum, this challenge is open only to SPEW members.

  2. #2
    jenny b
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    September Discussion: Education & Experiences

    I vaguely recall Jenna doing a similar topic last year, but since there's only a couple of you who were even around in 2009 it can't hurt to bring it up again.

    How do you feel that your education and/or experiences fit into your writing, as well as your reviewing?

    What about vice versa? Have you learnt things from MNFF/SPEW that have helped you in school/life?

    Do you think learning and life experiences are important in writing?


    Feel free to add to these questions or go off on tangents, this is just to get you started.

  3. #3
    jenny b
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    September Featured Author

    Our featured author for September is Jen/Kuri!

    Her author’s page can be found here.

    Remember:
    • You must review the featured author for it to count as your monthly activity requirement.
    • Post the link to your review here - you may also post it in the September review thread for credit as a review.
    • Questions in this thread are not part of the monthly requirement, but they are greatly encouraged. Also, they must have something to do with the subject of writing.

  4. #4
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    I look back on my early fanfic and origific attempts occassionally, and it makes me so pleased that I found MNFF. I've always wanted to write -- careerwise, it's the first thing I remember saying I wanted to do, and I've stuck to that ambition -- but I wonder whether my writing would be at the degree it is now without my experiences with MNFF. I cleared my profile page up not so long ago, and I deleted a lot of the crappier stories, or stories I just wasn't going to finish. I'm not gonna say that my work is amazing or any of that, because it isn't, and I wish it was. But looking over the stories as I deleted them made me realise and appreciate how far my writing has come in the -- wow, almost three years -- that I've hung around on MNFF. There's the little things, like developing my use of punctuation, to the big things, like realising that every character needs characterisation. And I really don't think I would have such a grasp on these things now, if it wasn't for mnff. Because practice and feedback is important to my writing, and I wouldn't have had that otherwise.

    Moving on from MNFF in general is SPEW, and then Poetry, Anyone. I was thinking about poetry this morning, and how a year or so ago I just couldn't stand the stuff. I looked at it, and wondered what the hell it all meant. But at the moment, poetry is my main escapism for writing. I love learning and trying the different forms, I love reading other people's poems and making my own interpretations while looking at how they constructed it. A little thing to somebody else, but I can't say how much I love that I've learned to appreciate poetry. Again, not sure I would've reached that level without MNFF. And SPEW -- I think I can learn alot myself from giving others feedback, and then there's the added bonus that as a member of SPEW I receive more, and better, feedback than I would've done otherwise. It doesn't even matter if the reviewer doesn't give me any criticism -- just telling me what they thought worked is a really helpful thing. That's why, these days, I don't really care anymore if I can't find any concrit to offer somebody.

    Now, to try and fit education and experiences into here somewhere... Like I say with the poetry, I'm appreciating things I don't think I would've before. I look at the things I read more analytically, even if I'm not really aware that I'm doing it I suppose I write more about the things I can relate to, on the experience thing, but at the same time Fanfic has forced me out of my comfort zone before, and I embrace that. Through a combination of reading OF and FF, I have written about things I haven't personally experienced, and I don't think that really matters. Somebody who has experienced it may write a better interpretation -- but then, isn't all writing kind of an interpretation of emotions and stuff, to some extent? Maybe... A lot of my writing is about people who fall into my age range, and have done things that I've done. But I think my writing would be boring if I only included my experiences, because everybody is different and has experienced different things. I develop on what I know when I write.

    Reviewing, maybe I have opinions on things already, and when a story challenges that maybe my review will be slightly harsher than somebody who has another opinion. The only example I can think of is stories about love at first sight. I tend to be a little too critical sometimes when I review them, just because I don't believe in love at first sight. I read the other reviews for that sort of thing, though, and people just love the romanticness [is that a word? :/] and take a completely different view to me of the story. Not sure that entirely made much sense, but there we go.

    I'm not sure I've stayed on topic at all, but those are just the ideas that came to me when I saw the topic questions, so yeah. xx

  5. #5
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spire
    romanticness [is that a word? :/]
    I think it's romanticism, or at least that's what Firefox tells me. I ♥ spellchecking browsers.

    How do you feel that your education and/or experiences fit into your writing, as well as your reviewing?

    I don't think that either my education or experiences really have much of anything to do with my writing outside of a marginal standpoint. Sure, in my education, I learnt what a comma is for and how it is used. In my life, I'd learnt that not everything is fair and that there are two sides to every story, but don't we all learn that at some point.

    Writing is so much more than mechanics and plot. It's about taking an idea and forming a whole new world from it, far beyond what ever makes it onto the page. Every detail of my stories, every character, every plot twist, has a history all of its own that lives in my head like something very real. That's something I do by nature, not by means of education and life experience. I also think it's what makes me a decent author.

    I don't delude myself in thinking that I'm anything resembling a top tier writer on this site, but I do know that I have the gift of storytelling, which is what makes fan fiction go.

    As for reviewing, that's a bit different. I'm not typically one who leaves crit in my reviews. I want the author to feel good about what he/she has written, so I tend not to poke holes in it. I had to learn how to do that in SPEW and do it right, because before, when something had a lot of mistakes, I simply did not review on the basis of not having enough nice things to say. I probably review more fics that I typically wouldn't now, because I know how to phrase things and how to pick out more things I liked to balance out the review. Those are things that I have learnt while being here in SPEW and MNFF, not in RL.

    What about vice versa? Have you learnt things from MNFF/SPEW that have helped you in school/life?

    Oh, in terms of writing and quality, I have learnt more from MNFF than anywhere else. In school, I was one of the more well-spoken students, so I got a lot of praise in that department. Here, I'm just another one of many who is vying for a little piece of something extraordinary, which is the validation of my work from people all around the world. There's an enormous amount of pressure in that, wanting my work to be liked by more people than those who didn't, but I enjoy that pressure. That is something that I couldn't have said about myself ten years ago. I wanted nothing to do with that.

    Do you think learning and life experiences are important in writing?

    They are and they're not. What you know about a certain subject gives you a well of information about something, but if you don't know about, say, murder and gore, that's okay. You can find information about it. It's not the end of the world if you have to do research instead of saying 'been there, done that'. I've written about horrific things in my stories, but I've experienced none of them. Still, the response to those scenes has been positive, because I took the time to learn about them and to familiarise myself with their effects on people in general.

    That's what's important, I think: dedication to doing things right. Readers recognise that.


    New TQ for discussion: Many of us have had 'the dream' of being published and acclaimed authors. Has your time in MNFF bettered or lessened your perceptions of yourself and the possibility of that happening for you? With that, has SPEW helped you along the way in that respect?

    This is sort of weird, but I feel like I have less of a chance to be a published author (well, technically, I already am a published author, but it's not in a true sense of the word) after being here. Before, I had a few ideas for some stories, but now, I have no desire to write anything but fan fiction. I mean, none at all. Room to Read was cringe-worthy to me and I hated the entire thing. I just wanted to get back to writing stories that I love. I never thought that I could ever develop such a single-minded focus on anything, yet here I am.

    SPEW has taught me a lot about quality in my own work. I've seen so many examples of good, bad, and ugly in others that I feel like I know what works and what doesn't in my own stories. That has dramatically increased the quality in my fics, which is, ultimately, what I'm here to do.
    Jess WritesJess DrabblesJess DuelsJess PoetsJess Draws



    Gorgeous banner by Dinny / Evora.


  6. #6
    Vorona
    Guest
    Romanticness/romanticism . . . I think the word you really want is simply romance. Romanticism has to do with the literary/art movements, even when lowercase. That is, it would mean something that shared qualities of the Romantic movement, without being an actual part of it.

    How do you feel that your education and/or experiences fit into your writing, as well as your reviewing?

    Well, I've been a writer for as long as I can remember, and thankfully, my teachers were all very supportive. My parents have also always been supportive of my writing. So, I didn't really ever have any bad writing experiences, other than the usual uncertainty and doubt that I think creep in for all writers. I used to hate the idea of "write what you know" because I was taking it too literally. I mean really, if all we ever wrote was "what we knew" there would be nothing but non-fiction on the shelves. So, obviously, that advice isn't meant to be taken 100% literally. And after awhile, I began to see certain themes and ideas emerge in my stories.

    When I was little, I was a real girly girl. The pink, the unicorns, the flute . . . the whole bit. And yet, I was still a feminist (though I didn't know it was called that). My first excursion into fan fiction wasn't in writing but in playing imaginary games that recreated, yes, the Thunder Cats. Only, you see, I had a better character. I was so upset at the episode where Liono beat Chetarra at running that I had to create a super character, and it had to be a female! Yes, Windwhipper was my first (and thankfully, I think, only) Mary Sue. I was in third grade, though, so it wasn't about getting in the pants of the male characters, it was because I wanted a woman to beat up on all of them! Despite the fact that I now really don't like pink (although it's still better than orange), and am not nearly quite so girly, I still have a little of that indignation in me: why do the guys always get to be the heroes? Obviously, there are now a lot of stories where that isn't true, but every once in awhile, that old feeling will get me, and I'll need to write some story with a kick-a** female in it.

    I also tend to write stories where someone is accused of something they didn't do. I'm not sure how that fits into my experiences/education, other than that Nancy Drew and the Clue in the Diary was the book that really got me reading, and it's all about a guy who's accused of a crime he didn't commit. Since then, I've also had a paranoia that that could happen to me, and I tend to get really riled up at news shows that assume a "suspect" is guilty even before the trial. In other words, what I've learned is that it's not so much what information I have that matters to my writing, but rather what kind of person I am and what matters to me. Those things that I don't necessarily know about but that I just know because they're a part of me.

    I also think that having experienced emotions allows me to be able to put those emotions on the page. It doesn't have to be an emotional reaction to something real, either: obviously, my emotional reaction to the Nancy Drew story has made it into my writing, and I've never actually been accused of something I didn't do. I also think this particular issue is the reason I'm so drawn to Snape. I liked Sirius for the same reason until he was cleared and everyone still hated Snape, but loved Sirius.

    Did I say I was good at brevity? I didn't think so . . . on to reviews. A lot of my life experience has helped me to write reviews, but I still find it hard at times. I think the biggest help has been the critiques and beta-reads I've given on original and fan fiction stories. I was able to take my 14-point table and condense it into a four-part SPEW review form: First Impressions - Problems I had and why - What I loved and why - Overall comments. It's been really helpful for making sure that I stay positive, but also mention as many points as I can.

    What about vice versa? Have you learnt things from MNFF/SPEW that have helped you in school/life?

    Reviewing is a difficult skill, but it's something I need to learn how to do. I've been doing critiques and betaing that involves a really long comment form, and it's really useful. I want to be a teacher, and ideally, I'd use that form when commenting on student papers. But do you know how long it takes me? It takes me forever! Also, I don't want to inundate my students with too much feedback. I'm thinking the review form might work better, since it is so focused, and I can really point out the most important issues that need to be worked on, rather than overwhelming them with every little issue. This will make it both more personalized and helpful, and also faster.

    Another thing I learned from MNFF (but not SPEW in particular) is that I really do like acknowledgement. I used to think that I only wrote for myself, but once I started publishing stories at Mugglenet, I really enjoyed being able to connect with readers and get long and/or helpful reviews. Submitting to Mugglenet also gave me hope that I wouldn't fear submitting to future original publishers.


    Do you think learning and life experiences are important in writing?

    I think I answered this partly in the response to the first question. I do. I think learning and life experiences are what makes us who we are as individuals, and that in turn, is what makes us good writers. I don't agree that we have to only write about things that have happened directly to us, though, or avoid any topics we'd have to research rather than have first-hand experience of. If we weren't all different, we'd all write the same stories, so it's the events and experiences that make us different that make our writing good.

    And:
    New TQ for discussion: Many of us have had 'the dream' of being published and acclaimed authors. Has your time in MNFF bettered or lessened your perceptions of yourself and the possibility of that happening for you? With that, has SPEW helped you along the way in that respect?

    A little of both, actually. The biggest drawback of MNFF, or at least the forums, is that there are so many prompts and ideas that can spark new ideas . . . and all those ideas are more fan fiction ideas. The more time I spend on fan fiction, the less time I have for original fiction. And as much as I love the forums, I'd have to say that's actually the biggest effect that MNFF has had on my original fiction. That said, as I mentioned earlier, getting used to submitting fan fiction to a moderated site does help lessen the fear and anxiety about sending something off to a real publisher. I don't take it personally if/when I get a rejection from MNFF, so I can use that experience to not take it personally if/when I get a rejection from a real publisher.

    I can't say, *yet* that SPEW has helped me in that respect, since I've only been in SPEW for less than a week.

  7. #7
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    Thanks for clearing the romance thing up somewhat for me, guys! ily <3

    New TQ for discussion: Many of us have had 'the dream' of being published and acclaimed authors. Has your time in MNFF bettered or lessened your perceptions of yourself and the possibility of that happening for you? With that, has SPEW helped you along the way in that respect?
    This is a really interesting question. When I first got into fanfiction, I would be totally consumed by it, spending hours at a time reading it. Eventually I started to submit my own fics, and I learnt from both the rejections and the acceptances. As a result, my writing has rapidly improved. At that time, I was quite absorbed by the world of Harry Potter, and I spent lots of time on FF and none on OF.

    I used to be a really active member here. Not now. I visit SPEW and PA, and I suppose if a class that I thought might help develop my skills in general came up on the forums, I would take it. Thing is, I don't really write any fanfiction now, apart from poetry, and I only read fics for SPEW and keep track of a couple of chaptered stories. My drabbling is generally OF, most of my poetry -- even the ones published on MNFF -- are really just OF, that you could apply to the Potterverse if you thought hard enough. So, I guess, my perception has changed over time. I've used MNFF to further my writing skills, ultimately in the pursuit of writing my own story one day, with my own original characters, etc.. I know I have far to go before I can be published, but MNFF has educated me in writing in a way school can't. I've been on so many levels of confidence about my writing in my time on the boards, but at the end of the day it's helps me perceive the overall quality of my writing a lot better. In fact, on that last point, SPEW has helped me a lot with.

  8. #8
    Fifth Year Gryffindor
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    Title: Harry's First Halloween
    Word Count: 800
    Warnings/Ratings: 3rd-5th years, mild profanity and a bit of drinking
    A/N: Beta'd by the Spelling & Grammar check on Word; it's completely un-Britified but extremly fun to write .


    “Pity it’s raining,” Lily sighed, tracing the trail of a raindrop on the window with her finger. “I wanted to take Harry out trick-or-treating.” She glanced down at the little boy lying on his stomach on the floor, and gently gathered him in her arms.

    “I, for one, am not complaining,” James said sternly. “No son of mine is going outside the house dressed as a fairy.”

    Lily closed her eyes exasperatedly. “It was a bumblebee costume, James. Harry would have looked adorable.” James grinned.

    “I love you, darling, but…let’s just say it’s in the public’s best interest for you to be kept far, far away from a needle and thread when it comes to Harry’s Halloween costumes.” Lily hit him lightly on the shoulder, balancing her son in the crook of her arm.

    “He’s three months old, James. I doubt he’s going to care what his costume looks like.” She glared at him as he laughed. “Sirius thought it was sweet.”

    “Ah, but he only said that because he was worried you’d revoke his godfather privileges if he didn’t,” James replied wisely. “Speaking of which, where is that mangy cur?”

    “I told him to come after nine if he’s expecting to open our expensive bottle of bourbon,” she said, smiling slightly. “I want Harry asleep before the alcohol comes out.” James rolled his eyes.

    “What’s he going to do, run and grab the bourbon when we’re not looking?” He gazed at Harry, letting his son wrap his tiny hand around James’s index finger. “You wouldn’t do that, would you, Harry?”

    “Bababa,” Harry replied frankly, his green eyes focused on James, entranced.

    Lily half-laughed, feeling enormously proud of his babbling. “You’re such a daddy’s boy, aren’t you?”

    “Baba,” Harry whispered. A string of drool hung off his bottom lip.

    “You’ve got to deny it, Harry, or your mummy will never forgive you,” James said, mock-severely. “Can you say, Mummy?”

    “Baaa!” the baby shrieked, yanking James’s finger into his mouth sharply and biting down.

    “Merlin’s arse!” James swore, tugging his finger back. "That hurt!”

    “Don’t swear in front of him, James,” Lily ordered reproachfully. “You’re such a wimp—Harry doesn’t even have teeth yet.”

    “He might as well,” her husband replied darkly as he inspected his finger. There was a flash of light outside the window, followed by a deep, loud rumbling of thunder. Harry buried his face in Lily’s shoulder.

    “I think it’s somebody’s bedtime,” she sighed, hiding a smile.

    “Right.” James ran a hand through his hair. “You put Harry to bed, Lily, and I’ll go entertain Sirius.”

    “He’s not even here yet! Plus, you did the entertaining last time…” Lily grumbled, though she took Harry to the bedroom anyway. James struggled to hide his grin of satisfaction, and sat down on the chair.

    “It’s not very gentlemanly to have your wife do all the work.”

    James nearly flew out of his chair.

    “Padfoot! You son of a—“

    “Don’t let Lily catch you swearing in front of Harry,” Sirius interrupted, sitting across from James.

    “When did you get here?”

    Sirius grinned. “A few moments ago, just in time to watch poor Lily leave with my godson.” James bit his lip guiltily.

    “Should I go in there?”

    “Nah, mate. You’d just trip over something and wake him up.” Sirius leaned the chair back, balancing it on the back two legs. “Did Harry get a chance to dress up in his fairy outfit, or did the thunder save him?”

    “It’s not a fairy costume,” Lily huffed as she entered the room. Turning to James, she added, “Harry went out like a light. I’ve got a feeling that means he’s waking up extra early tomorrow.” James’s groan was drowned out by another grumble of thunder. Lily tensed, listening for Harry’s cries, and relaxed visibly when they never came.

    “What’s say we crack open that bourbon now?” Sirius suggested. Lily smiled ruefully as she stood up.

    “Only you, Padfoot, could drink that stuff straight.”

    James frowned defensively. “I can drink it straight.” Even though she was in the kitchen, they could hear her scoff.

    “James, you can barely drink Rosmerta’s mead straight.”

    “She’s right, you know,” Sirius said solemnly, quirking an eyebrow. Lily came out with the drinks and three glasses. “I’ll serve, if you don’t mind,” Sirius added.

    “I don’t want a headache tomorrow, Padfoot,” she warned. Sirius pretended not to hear her and poured each of them a healthy-sized glassful.

    “To Hallow’s Eve,” he intoned, raising his glass. The glasses clinked, sloshing a few drops of drink on the table. Another round of thunder sounded as Lily took a small sip, and from across the hall there was a loud wail.

    “Damn it,” Lily murmured under her breath. James and Sirius grinned.

    Don’t swear in front of Harry!
    xx Ariana xx

    Thank you to Hokey for the beautiful banner. And thank you to everyone who nominated and judged --I'm so grateful to you <3.

  9. #9
    h_vic
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    Title: Rescue
    Word Count: 397

    Susan Bones froze and gave a small shriek as the pulse of light briefly illuminated the room. She knocked the small drawer she had been rooting through off its runners, and it crashed to the floor, not doing anything to drown out the crash of thunder as its contents spilled around her feet. Susan dropped to her knees scrabbling desperately at balls of string and spare screws and other oddments as they rolled away from her, and frustrated tears prickled at her eyes. She scrubbed her cheeks with her knuckles, annoyed with herself. She was a grown woman; she shouldn't be crying in fear at a storm.

    Susan hated thunderstorms, always had since she was a child. They felt too much like the end of the world, and they made her jumpy. Every roll of thunder spooked her too because it sounded just like the crack of Apparition and reminded her of the time when that noise always brought with it the terror of the Snatchers, even though she knew that it would be madness to Apparate in a storm as all the extra energy in the air threw magic haywire. That's why the storm had blown the lights and left her searching desperately for a candle (not that it would matter if she found one: without magic she had no way to light it – matches weren't something a pair of witches had ever bothered to keep in their flat).

    She felt trapped and alone. Hannah was out (Hannah was always out since she'd started seeing Neville), and their Floo was broken. Susan had two choices: sit alone in the dark or venture out into the storm. Neither seemed bearable, and without magic, she couldn't even make a cup of tea to make herself feel better.

    The tears stopped prickling and started burning tracks down her cheeks.

    A different sort of crash made her freeze in panic, until she realised it was just the thud of the door knocker. Palming the tears away, she answered the door. At first she almost didn't recognise the drenched figure on her doorstep, who must have walked for ages through the storm, and then she threw herself into his arms, not caring at the way the cold water dripping from him chilled her skin as he drew her against his chest.

    "Thought you might want a bit of company," Ernie said.
    50characterspamdance

  10. #10
    CoolCatElly
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    Title: Against All Odds

    Rating: 1-2nd years, no warnings, only fluff :- )

    Word Count: 611

    A/N: There is obviously a lot of things which remain a mystery in this drabble, but I would like the reader to fill in the gaps themselves.

    The darkness fled for a moment as another electric crack jutted through the air, visible only for a second through the tree canopy above. The heavenly percussion, not to be outdone by this dazzling slight, followed almost instantly with a drum roll of thunder which seemed to reverberate into the very core of the earth. The wood was filled with a thousand tiny ripples as small creatures scuttled about chaotically, trying in vain to find somewhere to escape from Mother Nature’s fury.

    It is as though the universe itself has turned against us.

    Yet nothing would keep him away tonight, not the storm, not the risk of banishment, even though the memories of what they, of what he had done to Firenze that night were still burning in his mind. His pulse sped up as he broke into a brisk canter, his hooves making no sound on the damp, muddy ground. The rain was coming down in a torrent now, but he choose console himself with the knowledge that the stars would not betray his whereabouts, not that night.

    He finally approached the meeting place, and his tail flicked nervously from side to side as he tried to push his fears aside, jumping slightly as another peal of thunder rattled around the wood. He almost laughed aloud at his foolishness; he had no reason to be afraid! He, who had lead the herd proudly to war against the Dark Lord, one of the few times the centaurs had chosen to act, and not just observe from afar. He had nothing to be ashamed about.

    Old habits die hard, though, and he didn’t doubt that his actions tonight would be neither understood nor approved of. Centaurs didn’t fall in love, not like the humans did, with quick and fiery passions that changed abruptly from one moon to the next. Ronan always attributed their fickle nature to their short life-span. A centaur was brought up in full realisation of its history, was taught from a young age the importance of understanding the world around and above them, and that there were no shortcuts to this knowledge. Those human fools think that they, with their scrolls and potions and worthless talk and speculation, could obtain true knowledge? How can any being truly understand the world unless they live in - and learn from it - unless it be through test and trial and age-old philosophy.

    Taking all of this into account, however, there was no conceivable reason for him to be there, waiting for her. The females were kept together at all times, with the foals, safe from any of the creatures of the night who haunted these parts. The males had limited interaction with them, apart from a few weeks during mating season, but that had been months ago.

    “Ronan.”

    He turned his head, catching his breath as his she walked forward, gracefully in spite of the gale which ripped around her. She looked so striking with her white coat that at a moment’s glace she might easily be mistaken for a unicorn.

    “Vevila.”

    Her name was a smile, a phoenix song. She was here - looking at him like he was the only creature in the entire universe that mattered. In that moment he could believe that there was something greater out there; that what the humans called “love” truly existed.

    Once, the safety and pride of the herd had been the only thing worth fighting for, dying for. But tonight, as he looked into her sparkling blue eyes, he knew that that was a thing of the past. The only knowledge, the only wisdom he would ever need was right there in front of his eyes.

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