Pat McNees

Writer, editor, ghostwriter, personal historian



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Telling your story
Do you want to record your life (family, company) story but never find time? Is the project overwhelming? Worried about your writing skills? Capture those stories (whether aging relatives or long-term employees) before they retire or die. If necessary, get a little help — or coaching. Be or find a storycatcher or personal historian. Do it now, while the memories are still there and the elders are still alive!!!

Book Groups, Recommended Titles
Some titles worth reading and discussing

The boy in the plastic bubble
He was a bright and curious boy, then a strong-willed teenager, playing his guitar, permanently grounded, never, ever touched.

Changing Times, Changing Minds
The history of psychiatry in America, wrapped around the story of the University of Maryland's unusual department of psychiatry, which specializes in studying evidence-based treatment of schizophrenia and other serious, persistent mental illnesses

Dying: A Book of Comfort
"This is a special gem of a resource for those contending with dying, death, and bereavement. Through its expertly chosen material, Dying, A Book of Comfort informs, guides, and gently enables healthy grief and mourning. I recommend it heartily." --Therese A. Rando, author of How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies

Michael Kilian's message of hope for a newborn
The son to whom this legacy letter was written read it aloud in 2005 at his father's memorial service


A bad heart and housemaid's knee
When Marian P. was 19, her heels became so swollen and stiff that she could not walk. At 40 she had a heart attack that went undiagnosed for two and a half weeks. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her.

Pat's writing workshops and presentations
Pat's hands-on report-writing workshops (from Washington, D.C., to Burma and Lesotho) teach people how to organize their thoughts and present them briefly, clearly, and persuasively. For more personal writing, consider her workshops on writing your ethical will (or legacy letter) or writing your own (or someone else's) life story.


Eulogy for Eleanor
Mom had a gift for making and hanging on to friends and for identifying and harassing enemies.


Why Janie Can't Engineer: Raising Girls to Succeed
Encourage girls to get messy and make big interesting mistakes, urges Pat in this Washington Post article.

The NIH Clinical Center
Make a note. You (or someone you know) may need it some day.

"This hospital is a jewel in the medical universe. For someone like myself who wants to do serious science and seriously apply it -- in my case, finding new treatments for patients with cancer -- there's no place in the world like the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health."
--Steven Rosenberg, NCI, pioneer in cancer immunotherapy

"It's the place that restored my faith in medicine. They cared about my daughter, they cared about me, they cared about how we were treated, and offered any help in any way." -- Marybeth K., mother of a cystinosis patient

Read Lynne Lamberg's featured story about it in the May 4, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

New Formulas for America's Workforce:
Girls in Science and Engineering

Over 66,000 people have downloaded this book, which is full of great ideas for parents, teachers, and those who want more girls to go into science, engineering, math, and technology careers. Winner of APCC's Excellence in Writing award and of a Merit Award for online communication from the Society for Technical Communication.

Washington Biography Group
Avoid "research rapture" and other perils of lifestory writing.

Selections from Dying: A Book of Comfort
What it is like (emotionally) to die, how to help someone die, how to say good-bye, what to expect from grief, and how to console the bereaved.

Homework without tears
"My life is ruined by my child's homework. It's a knockdown, drag-out fight from the minute they get home until the minute they go to bed." This Washington Post article about how to get the learning back into homework is often handed out to parents at back-to-school night.

Pat McNees's editing
If your content is strong but your presentation is dull, wordy, disorganized, full of jargon, or otherwise in need of editing, hire Pat

Teens and alcohol
We don't know ahead of time which people are more likely to become alcoholics or addicts. To experiment is to play Russian roulette.

Music for funerals and memorial services
These lists are a work in progress. Please share your recommendations.

Medical links for smart patients and smart parents
Links to useful medical and health information.

Bag lunches (attention, parents!)
What's in and what's out in the lunchroom. Hold the mayo and don't smush that PBJ.

Caviar
This award-winning article was first published in 1993, in the Washington Post food section.

Scared speechless? Join Toastmasters
"Everybody has butterflies in his stomach," they tell you, referring to the fear that grips so many of us when we have to speak in public. "Toastmasters helps you get the butterflies to fly in formation."

Dancing: A Guide to the Capital Area
A guide to swing, waltz, tango, contra, and other forms of social dancing in Washington, D.C. and nearby.

Dating -- again!
Re-entering the singles scene as a mature adult often elicits anxious memories of high school -- particularly of dances: fear of not being asked to dance or fear of asking and being rejected.

Love at First Waltz (by Cheryl Kollin)
In the dance of love, she found her perfect partner

Swing, lindy, jitterbug, and shag
There's six-count and eight-count, in a circle or along a line, emphasizing legwork or armwork. And that's for starters.

Buffalo Gap Dance Camp
Buffalo Gap is authentic camp, with the addition of hot water, good food, and lots of dancing.

Ballroom dance
You can learn international style (standard and Latin American), you can learn American style (smooth and rhythm), or you can just have fun.

Country western dancing
Quickly going the way of the cowboy?

Folk dancing, contra dancing, and square dancing
Folk dances are filled with people whose dance-phobic partners are home watching TV, and even at "couples dances" the general practice is to keep changing partners, which means you don't have to bring one along to have a good time. Folk dancing is a bargain and exceptionally healthy. On a good night, folk dancing is just as aerobic as a marathon. These are not the corridors of power, but you'd be surprised at the variety of workplaces folk dancers represent. It's just that you won't hear them talking about work much on the dance floor.

Portobello mushrooms
The portobello maintains its firmness longer than wild mushrooms and is chewier in texture.


Chicks in academia take on Larry Summers
Are men and women different?

Contemporary Latin American Short Stories
A now classic collection of contemporary Latin American short stories, with stories by some of the finest writers of the twentieth century. Among those whose stories are included: Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, Clarice Lispector, Julio Cortazar, Miguel Angel Asturias, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Amado, Juan Bosch, Jose Donoso, Horacio Quiroga, Mario Vargas Llosa, Abelardo Castillo, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Manuel Puig, Maria Luisa Bombal, Juan Carlos Onetti, Mario Benedetti, Norberto Fuentes, and Jose Agustin.

The truth about dry cleaning
Sometimes laundering is as good as dry cleaning. Sometimes it's preferable -- if you do it right.

Selling your diamonds
Selling the family jewels? Lower your expectations.

Ceilis
The Irish kind of dance party (Scots have them, too)

Starting a small business
More than half of all businesses fail within the first four years, usually because people start businesses in which they have no experience.

How to buy upholstered furniture
The fabric on the sofa is not nearly as important as its build and design.

YPO: The First 50 Years
You've never heard of YPO? There's a reason. This warts-and-all account of YPO's first 50 years--especially its formative and often turbulent first 25 years -- provides fascinating insights into a highly influential international organization of young corporate presidents that has traditionally resisted publicity. The 8,000 members of YPO as this book is published generate a cumulative $1.3 trillion annually, reports the Washington Post, and that's not counting the many thousands of alumni who must leave the organization when they turn 50.

An American Biography
Raised in a Dayton boarding house, Warren Webster rose from the factory floor and a life of dirty fingernails to management of a firm that supported the transportation industry. In City Life Michael Dolan wrote, "McNees has produced a lean, swift narrative of life in the American Century, warts and all: the roar of the '20s, the sag of the '30s, the flowering of the arsenal of democracy, and the slow segue from post WWII ebullience to the retracted realities of the 1990s. It is that rarest of literary commodities: a one-sitting read about business.-- Foreword by Robert Kanigel.

By Design (Crown, the BMW of forklifts)
The compelling story of how a small-town Ohio firm, Crown Equipment, known for making heat regulators and television antenna rotators, became a major player in the lift truck industry. A rags-to-riches company story that sheds light on the military-industrial complex.

Great and Unusual Online Shopping
(with a bow to the late, great Sarah Wernick)

A Latina mini-revolution in the computer classroom
Pre-school classes and after-school internships change attitudes and land Hispanic teenagers high-tech jobs.


Health Care Reform, ACA, and Medical Error
Mistakes happen. Health care systems should prepare for that.
The big debate now: The Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare)

Books, articles, and more

Writing or telling life stories
Everyone has a story to tell. What's keeping you from telling yours? Become a storykeeper or personal historian or find one.
Read aloud at a memorial service decades later
A loving testament, or legacy letter, sharing your life experiences and lessons with the next generation
Learn to write articles, reports, ethical wills, or life stories (memoirs and beyond).
Mom — hardworking, sassy, and full of surprises
Mutual support and discussion
Social history through the life of an ordinary Midwestern businessman.
Dancing, food, good books, and other diversions
Favorites of several book groups
What is the single lunch-bag item most hated by all children?
What heightens the caviar experience is the price of those little gray or black sturgeon eggs.
Links to dancing venues and calendars for the Washington, D.C. area.
Midlife "first dates"
Did she fall in love with the man or the waltz?
Also related: jive, hustle, hand-dancing.
All the dancing your feet can take
Choosing a school of dance
Contra, English country, international, Irish, Israeli, Scandinavian, Scottish
The big ones, with dirty stems
"A rich, varied, and highly rewarding collection," says Joyce Carol Oates
Ceilis (Irish dancing)
Medical mysteries, patient stories, and practical links
John Travolta played the boy in the movie. The real story ended far differently.
Thin little Marian had a cholesterol problem most people have never heard of.
You've probably never heard of this national research hospital and clinic. But someone you know may be able to benefit from it directly and all of us do, indirectly.
Understanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the debate on health care reform. Avoiding medical errors
Dying, mourning, and other inevitable events
"This remarkable collection, coming from personal experience and wide reading, will help many find the potential of growth through loss." --Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement
For those dying, for caregivers, and for the bereaved
Listen to samples of popular songs and music
Girls and science
Cool science sites
Best practices for teaching science--to strengthen the science workforce.
Some links and a selection
Practical matters
Identify children's learning styles and improve their ability to learn.
Six weeks to hassle-free homework.
Why parents should be concerned.
Public speaking is a craft, not an art. It can be learned.
Can you wash it if it says "dry clean"?
Fact vs. fantasy
One woman's story.
Don't focus on the fabric.
Organizational histories
A frank history of the Young Presidents' Organization.
The little lift truck that could — a story of brilliant marketing in America's heartland.
Online Shopping
Best places to shop online