Top 5 Writing Resources

Whether you write a blog regularly or your writing life is limited to work e-mails and an annual holiday letter,  we all could use a little help. Here are my top 5 writing resources to help cure writer’s block and improve your skills. I receive no kickbacks for recommending these books. All links go to the author’s website instead of an Amazon page, hoping you will support your local independent bookstore when purchasing these fantastic resources.

Here we go!

Everybody Writes by Anne Handley

This book is known as the “essential guide to becoming a masterful marketer, writer, and storyteller. If you are someone who falls asleep at the thought of grammar and sentence structure, this is the book for you. This author is known for her wit as well as her wisdom. She provides excellent strategies for planning in her chapter “Think Before You Ink” and “How to Hate Writing Less.” Handley teaches you how to develop your brand, avoid cliches, and write engaging copy.

No matter what topic you write about, you want your writing to connect with your audience. This is your book.

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

During the pandemic, I decided to get a professional certificate in digital marketing. My first class was on content marketing, and this was the textbook. Fortune Magazine calls it “one of the top business books of the year.” If you are responsible for generating content for your business or employer, this author talks about how to develop content and then recycle that content for different platforms, from e-mail to social media. Want to grow your audience? There is a section dedicated to expanding your reach through your content. I learned so much from this book. He just came out with a second edition, which, admittedly, I haven’t purchased yet. I already have the original, which cost me nearly $30. I’m glad I have it on my shelf, and I’m a little jealous of the people who don’t have this book yet. You get to buy the most recent edition, while mine is ten years old.

Totally worth it!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

For those of us who are struggling bestseller novelists or memoirists who fight imposter syndrome and writer’s block, this book is my gift to you. She writes an inspiring and often humorous guide to the writer’s world. It’s my survivor guide for when I’m feeling like I don’t have an ounce of creativity left in me. She inspires me to write many shitty first drafts and reassures me that my voice deserves to be heard.

Perfect English Grammar, Grant Barrett

Gather up all of your grammar and punctuation questions and find the answers in this little manual. From spelling and formatting to abbreviations and pronouns, you will want to consult this guide before you hit send on that e-mail, publish that paper, or put out that press release.

Finally, I will get my geek on and tell you about my favorite resource.

How to Tell Fate from Destiny and Other Skillful Word Distinctions by Charles Harrington Elster

As an avid reader and writer, I’m a huge lover of the written word. While a thesaurus will provide 20 different words for convince, this book looks into the deeper meaning of those words to help you decide which words to use in what context. For instance, he writes, “to convince” means to “make someone believe something,” while “to persuade” means “to make someone take action.”

Isn’t that so cool?! No? Okay, I’m weird. I know. But if you are a word nerd like me, this is a must-have for your resource shelf.

Whether you enjoy writing or are required to write for your job and don’t know where to begin, I hope there is something on this list to help you. Good luck!



When I was a kid, we celebrated Passover at my aunt and uncle’s house every year. I have so many fond memories of sitting in their huge dining room surrounded by my entire family. Besides my wedding day, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a room that was more filled with love. I was raised as a Conservative Jew, which is somewhere in between – “they tried to kill us, let’s eat” and a four-hour Seder.

I still see my uncle at the head of the table leading the service with my aunt by his side (occasionally running to the kitchen to check on dinner). I don’t know how he got a room full of people to pay attention and participate fully, but I was always impressed at how engaged we all were in our traditions. I also remember wondering who would carry on these traditions when we grew up. Who would cook? Who would host? Who would lead the Seder?

Back then, I don’t know if anyone would have picked me to host and lead the Seder when we had our own families. I was not the most knowledgeable or the most outgoing as a child. I didn’t attend a Jewish overnight camp or a fancy synagogue. I’m also not the best cook, so with all of these factors working against me, I would have thought myself the least likely of the next generation to host one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar.

But here I am, 30 years later, writing this while gazing up at my dining room table set for 20 people. This year, we postponed our second Seder to Saturday when my kids can be home. The Haggadahs* are out. The seder plates, matzah covers, wine glasses, and candles are unpacked and ready to fulfill their duties. Thankfully, my family contributes the best homemade Passover food to the big meal. My aunt and cousin are making delicious brisket. (My attempts to make brisket have failed miserably over the years, so I have delegated this responsibility to the experts). My mom is bringing her famous honey carrots, matzah ball soup, and her tasty roasted chicken and vegetables. My mother-in-law and I take care of the side dishes—pineapple kugel, veggie souffle, and sweet and sour meatballs. And my sister-in-law channels her beloved grandmother and bakes the most incredible desserts. No one would think the cakes and cookies she brings are Kosher for Passover. Yeah, they are that good!

As for me, I’m cleaning up and shopping various markets to buy everything we need for the Seder. I have the matzah, the hard-boiled eggs, the parsley, the salt water, the charoset, the bitter herbs, and of course, the wine. I have also led the Seder, which has evolved over the years. My husband and I raised our kids as Reform Jews, so our service lasts about 30 minutes, and then we eat. But this year, we are doing things a little differently.

My daughter, Jenna, has compiled a social justice-themed Haggadah for her campus Hillel’s Seder. We will expand our horizons a little by connecting the Passover story to some of the issues facing our world today, like food insecurity, climate change, and human rights. Jenna is a sociology major, and social justice is one of her passions.

Did I mention yet how proud I am of her for putting this together?! I read through the service today and cried a few tears of joy. When I called to tell her how much I loved it, she told me that when she has a house someday, she will host Passover just like we do. I admit that I teared up even more when she said that.

Thirty years ago, I was sitting at my aunt and uncle’s Seder table. Now, I’m hosting the Seder at my house, and my daughter has volunteered to keep our traditions alive for the next generation. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

*For those who don’t celebrate this holiday, the Haggadah is the book we use to tell the Passover story. It includes the blessings, the story of how we were slaves in Egypt and the Exodus to freedom in Israel, and different songs and readings. The Seder takes place at home with family and friends and includes the telling of the story and a festive dinner. 

Food, Faith, and Family

Passover begins tonight, and I’m ready for a little holiday spirit. This year, I’m being very intentional about staying present and enjoying the moment. I work as a communications director for a Jewish organization, and most of the time, I’m planning content two holidays ahead of where we are right now. Because of my line of work, holidays tend to pass me by, one after the next, without a lot of time for personal fulfillment. I guess you could call it an occupational hazard.

So today, I want to take a few minutes here to state my intentions about how I’m approaching Passover 2023.


I admit that Passover food is not my favorite. Once the first two Passover seders are over, I get tired of brisket and chicken. Like post-Thanksgiving leftovers, I tend to nosh on the side dishes like sweet and sour meatballs, matzah kugels, and chocolate macaroons for days. By the end of the holiday, my stomach asks for freedom from all of that matzah. But I understand the sacrifice I’m making by forgoing bread to remember that we were once slaves in Egypt. It’s also important to remember those who still aren’t free to live authentically and make decisions about their bodily autonomy. I won’t sugar coat it. I’m talking about abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial justice just to name a few of the issues the themes of Passover can bring to light.


My favorite part of the holiday is the Passover seder and finding ways to connect the story to modern life. Themes like springtime and starting anew, and going from slavery to freedom are still relevant today. For me, I might be looking for a new start, a new adventure. I’m constantly reinventing myself, and the ideas are starting to brew again. As for the social justice themes I mentioned above, I am empowered by my faith to believe as I do. I know others have different points of view based on their core beliefs. I respect that. But I don’t think one person’s faith should trump another person’s faith. Can’t we all just get along without telling each other what books to read, who to love, and how to live?


Ok, I lied. Being with family is my favorite part of all the Jewish holidays. My kids are very intentional when it comes to celebrating this holiday. Andrew just called from campus to ask when Passover starts so he can plan his meals accordingly. Jenna is leading the Passover seder at Towson Hillel. I lead my seder, but we are not doing ours until Saturday when everyone can be home. Tonight, we will spend the first night of Passover with my parents, aunt, uncle, and lots of cousins. I blessed to have a large family to celebrate with. And carrying on the Passover traditions has always a priorit to me as a Jewish mom. Looking around the seder table, I am so proud that we take the time out of our busy schedules to make it a priority to be together and celebrate.

Wishing all who celebrate a zissen Pesach!



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