Washington Biography Group

Meeting steadily since 1986

*Our next regular meeting is
Monday September 17, 2018
7 to 8:45 pm promptly
Washington International School, Goodman Room

(see links to addresses etc. at bottom of this e-letter)
Estella Chung will moderate.
This is our annual back-to-school meeting where we catch up on what's
happened with our projects and deadlines and writing over these many month

Go here here for more about Washington Biography Group and its members: Washington Biography Group

During the school year, the WBG meets once a month, usually on a
Monday from 7 to 8:45 pm at the
Washington International School
3100 Macomb St., NW
Washington DC 20008
We meet in the Goodman Room (formerly the Terrace Room) in the main building. I (Pat) send out e-mail notices of the meeting dates and topics, which are also posted under 'Events' on both Pat McNees's website ( and her Writers and Editors site: . (You can ask Pat to add you to the distribution list to get her WBG e-letter, which includes notices of meetings.)

Go here for fuller instructions on where the WBG meets.

To be added to the WBG e-mail list and receive meeting notices and Pat's e-letter about memoir and biography, send a message to Pat's WBG email: (spelled out to elude spammers: washingtonbiographygroup at gmail dot com) Convert that to traditional e-mail formula). What you get is periodic e-letters full of links related to life story writing, publishing, and related topics, plus notices about our meetings (or big events in the lives of members).

Occasionally parking is a slight problem, if the school is also holding an evening event. At one meeting someone came in and said the owner of an SUV had left its lights on. Marc responded, "This is not an SUV kind of group" and sure enough, it wasn't one of us (although there are SUVs among us).

Washington Biography Group

Meeting steadily since 1986

Topic for some later date: How do we determine our subject's world view? What are the dominant characteristics that shape what we think of them? Their religion? Where they grew up? What else?
All about digital publishing (from POD to eBooks and more)

Other conferences I've attended and loved:

Health Journalism 2010 (Association of Health Care Journalists, May 2 to May 5, 2019, Baltimore, MD)

ASJA conference (American Society of Journalists & Authors, changing traditional place and time: Sunday-Monday, May 5-6, 2019 NYC)

BIO Conference (Biographers International Organization) BIO: Tell me when you have a date and place.

Washington Writers Conference Date not yet assigned. I prefer its original name: Books Alive!

My Life, One Story at a Time

Pat McNees's Guided Autobiography workshop
January-February 2019
Writer's Center, Bethesda, MD

How will you be remembered, and what has your life meant? The goal in this nontraditional workshop of short personal writing (a slightly modified version of Guided Autobiography) is to capture your personal and family legacy for the next generation, the friends and family who will survive you. Knowing that you are writing not for publication but to set the record straight--in your own mind, as much as anything--may liberate you, allowing you to examine with candor your important life choices and experiences, achievements and mistakes, beliefs and convictions. You will write one piece each week, to read aloud, including one piece (500 words or less) to bring for the first night, to introduce yourself with. Assignment 1: A turning point in your life. Ask Pat for assignment in more detail.) Work will be read aloud to the group but not "workshopped" -- not with the kind of critiquing that can wilt writers who are trying to explore their life frankly but aren't yet ready or eager for literary criticism.

Through a series of exercises designed to open a rich vein of personal material, you will begin the exploration and storytelling that may help you tell your personal or family history. No whining, no boasting, no name dropping: Just an honest examination of what went on in your life or your family, with an emphasis on telling the stories and fleshing out the characters you find there. This course, which grew out of the warm-up exercises for Pat's workshop on ethical wills, will encourage you to reminisce deeply: to mine your life (and family) experiences for personal stories, myths, themes, and values.

Click here:
My Life, One Story at a Time

7:15--9:45 pm
Instructor Pat McNees
The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Phone: 301 654-8664
Writer's Center online
$270 (most of which goes to support the Writer's Center)

You can e-mail postmaster@​ and ask to be notified when workshops go on-line for registration. Include your mailing address and ask for a hard copy of their brochure of workshops.

Check out Pat's article on The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities (first published in Geriatric Care Management Journal, Spring 2009). But hey -- young people benefit, too!

Guided Autobiography
James Birren developed the simple but effective process of Guided Autobiography (for which Pat was trained) Each week, including the first week, participants will write and read aloud a two-page story from their life based on a theme (for example, Money -- or Love). The idea: to help you (and your survivors) see the patterns in your life. First week's assignment (participants will receive a handout from the instructor prior to the start date): the Major Branching Points of Your Life.

April 29, 2017

Fifth Annual Books Alive Conference

Washington Independent Review of Books
Multi-genre, lots of fun.
$260 ($240 if you register by March 1)
New venue: College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD
Schedule for 2017

May 19-21

Biographers International Conference

Here's the description of one workshop: As the popularity of cradle-to-grave biographies has decreased, the demand for so-called “slice-of-life” biographies has grown. This kind of biographical work is tricky and requires particular writing skills. Biographers of highly successful slice-of-life books will talk about their strategies and share tips about how to shape the narrative.

Oct. 26-30, 2017
San Francisco

Bridging Science and Society
10th World Conference of Science Journalists

The largest meeting of science journalists in the world
(first time held in United States)