"The Creative Process of Writing
is a Liberating and Therapeutic Experience"
In This Issue:
2. Publisher's Note
3. Book Review: Stones into Schools
4. Helpful Hints
The Writer's Connection explores the creative process
of writing and the interplay between thoughts, feelings,
and actions. We are an interactive community of authors
and readers who share ideas to enhance our knowledge,
skills, and experiences in writing fiction in any genre,
but our emphasis remains mystery and suspense thrillers.
Published monthly, the Newsletter offers writing tips
for authors, coaching suggestions, editing, and marketing
Topics are presented from the perspective of Keith Barton
and represent only his ideas on producing your first manuscript,
and are provided to the general public. Because we are
an interactive community of writers, other viewpoints
are welcomed and may be printed in future monthly newsletters
with permission from Keith Barton.
2. Publisher's Note
Dear Writer's Connection Subscriber,
This month's newsletter features: Book Review: Stones
Book Review: Stones
Those of you who read Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea
and my earlier review of that book,
will enjoy even more his current sequel, Stones into Schools
. This may sound impossible.
Sequels typically never measure up to the original, but Mortenson has broken this rule to the max.
He begins his story where Three Cups of Tea
leaves off describing how four schools for young
Afghan girls has grown to 131 in the remote parts of northeastern Afghanistan-Pakistan-China border
in the Himalayan mountains above the Hush valley.
Mortenson begins his story of the young woman, Nasreen Baig who leaves her Pakistani village of
Zuudkhan to travel to the bustling city of Rawalpindi. Nasreen attended the Central Asian Institute's
(CAI) first school in 1994 at the age of five and now at 18 having excelled in school leaves her
mother and four siblings to become an OB/GYN nurse. This was unheard of until Mortenson built his
first school for young Afghan girls to receive an education in a patriarchal society that still
treats women as property and unworthy of an education, much less making a living for themselves.
Unlike his first book of being rescued in the village of Korphe after his failed 1993 alpine attempt
at climbing the second highest peak in the Himalayas, K2, Mortenson focuses more on his personal
struggle after the overwhelming success of Three Cups of Tea
. In order to fundraise to
financially support his CAI non-profit organization, he became the chief marketing director by
making over 680 personal appearances in more than 270 US cities talking to 6500 people in high
school football stadiums and less than 20 in a small town library.
The effects of his travel
schedule were devastating to his personal health which required two hospitalizations because
of physical exhaustion. One must understand that Mortenson is a very self-effacing and selfless
individual who hates the public and marketing; he'd rather be with his family in Bozeman, Montana,
or the schools in Afghanistan.
This sequel offers much more insight into the post-911 mentality and the author's working with our
military despite his attempts to never allow US military officials to wear fatigues into the Afghan
schools. Notables such as Admiral Mike Mullin, Chairman JCOS, General David Petraeus, and General
Stanley McChrystal are just a few of the men who read his first book, Three Cups of Tea
at the urging of their wives, and now the book is required reading at the Army War College
and military colleges for young officers and those non-com patriots before their tour of duty in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Checks began arriving after the success of his first book which remains on
the bestseller list (#7) with Stones for Schools
#8 and soon to be number one on the
The author is an introvert and views himself as socially awkward, soft-spoken, ineloquent, and
intensely shy. He does not enjoy speaking in public; yet, he realizes he is the engine that runs
the CAI train and if more schools are to be built, he must continue to divide his time between writing,
public speaking, his family, and the children of the war-torn country of Afghanistan.
$20 can educate a first grader for one year, $340 for four years of high school, and $50,000 to build
an eight-room schoolhouse and teacher salaries for the first five years. Multiply $50k by 131 and you
can see the impact Greg Mortenson has had in this third-world country in the most isolated and harshest
climate on earth. He quotes Yale economist Paul T. Schultz that an extra year of secondary school may
raise the same girl's lifetime wages by 25%, and infant mortality rates drop significantly after a
In the spirit of his upbringing by missionary parents in South Africa, the girl effect of his two books
in Afghanistan are reminiscent of an African proverb heard in Tanzania during his childhood: "If you
teach a boy, you educate an individual; but if you teach a girl, you educate a community." Despite his
close calls with the Taliban, most of the mullahs dislike the militaristic and gender differences
espoused by their misreading of the Koran which preaches peace and community.
Before any school is built Mortenson meets over tea (literally) with the village mullahs who have buy
in to the school. He receives many more requests than he can handle and judicious choices are made with
the help of his trusted advisors in Afghanistan. This book is a must read for anyone who loves education
and the apolitical community approach to winning the hearts and souls of an impoverished people who have
been held back by China, Russia, and the Taliban.
Greg Mortenson is an idealist who walks the walk with a third-world people who hold to the view that both
boys and girls have a right to an education to lead them out of poverty and ignorance which can only
lead to extremism and anarchy. The author has come a long way from the four-room schoolhouse he promised
his now deceased mentor and friend Haji Ali, "a man who never learned to read and write, and who now lies
in his grave under the apricot trees next to the barley fields of Korphe...who understood the virtue of
small things." (from the author)
- Read both of Mortenson's books. It will change your life. What will you do this next year
to make the world a better place?
- Taking politics aside and your view of our military presence in Afghanistan, Mortenson's
CAI non-profit organization is a testament that humanitarian aid can improve the human condition
and understanding between people. What other historical accounts can you think of that have done
the same thing?
- If you feel compelled to look further on what you can do to help the children of Afghanistan,
I encourage you to visit Mortenson's websites for the Central Asian Institute.
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About Keith Barton, Ph.D.
Dr. Barton received his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University
of Texas at Austin and has been a practicing therapist
for over thirty years. He is currently enrolled in MentorCoach
and is accepting new clients.
He has been an adjunct professor at the University of
South Carolina, consultant to Fortune 500 companies in
executive development, founded and managed Texas Community
Living Ventures, Inc., in 1986 for providing group home
services to persons with mental retardation. Keith founded
and has been running a clinical practice in Northwest
Houston since 1990.
He writes part-time with the goal of completing one novel
a year. His desire to coach others derives from his passionate
interest in helping others become attuned to their creative
powers of storytelling.
Dr. Barton has training in coaching, cognitive and family
therapy and health psychology. He has published articles,
made presentations and conducted workshops about:
Anxiety and achievement
The relationship between psychology and spirituality