I’m an experienced speaker at events of all kinds, equally comfortable engaging small groups and large crowds. I’d love to join you!


I attend private book club meetings by invitation, and am happy to join your group’s discussion of one of my titles via video chat or even in person! Visit the contact page for discussion guide questions and to inquire about availability.


Looking for an experienced keynote speaker, workshop instructor, or panelist who offers a seasoned editor’s expertise as well as a writer’s perspective? Contact me! I’ve received ovations for my keynotes at such prestigious venues as the University of New Mexico, Pennwriters, and Antioch Writers Workshop, and have emceed events as large as the 1,000-person Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City. (Don’t take my word for it: Testimonials below.) All sessions can be adapted for virtual event formats that will keep attendees alert and engaged at their screens. Session topics include (not a complete list):

  • Mastering Voice: Finding the Magic Mix of Style, POV & Character: In a crowded market, one thing can make your story stand out from Page 1: Voice. It’s what grips our attention, makes your characters and their world feel real, and signals we’re in the hands of a compelling storyteller. In an era of audiobooks and e-reading, it’s more important than ever. This workshop draws on various forms of art and entertainment to improve your command of written voice and style; demonstrates how point-of-view choices shape characters and build suspense; teaches you to hone unique voices for every character; and helps tap that elusive “it factor” agents and editors look for.
  • 10 All-Time Best Writing Lessons From 10 Years of Interviews With the All-Time Best Writers: This session (which can be delivered as either a workshop or an inspiring keynote address) distills a decade of collected wisdom into the all-time best insights into the creative process, the writing life, the craft of writing and the business of publishing. Get new perspectives on revolutionizing your writing routine, following the path of your story, revising with the right mindset, persevering through rejection, and more—from award-winners and bestsellers including Alice Walker, David Sedaris, David Baldacci, Patricia Cornwell, Khaled Hosseini, Brad Meltzer and Lisa Scottoline.
  • Make Every Page Matter: Whether we’re reading a humorous essay, a heartfelt memoir, or a page-turning novel, we love the build of anticipation, the satisfaction of the unexpected. This interactive workshop uses prompts, examples, and tips to help you master tricks for keeping your readers on the hook, from the paragraph level to the story’s premise. You’ll twist turns of phrase, uncover your character’s secrets, pull the rug out, and leave with plenty of ideas for adapting these techniques to your own work-in-progress.
  • Building Suspense by Acting Out of Character: Once you’ve established who your characters are, you can thicken your plot by giving them reasons to act out of character. (Think of the meek heroine who suddenly lashes out, the reliable parent who runs off, or the villain who shows an unexpected kindness—all make you want to know why.) Learn how this underutilized technique can be used on a large scale (propelling an entire plot) or a small one (adding twists, turns and interest) to create page-turners sure to satisfy.
  • How to Become a Regular Contributor to Any Publication: Becoming a regular contributor is the dream scenario in terms of steady paychecks, easier-to-come-by assignments, and more byline opportunities for freelance writers, and yet so many freelancers go about this the wrong way. This session teaches you how to make ANY assignment the first of many, build relationships with editors, recognize opportunities other writers miss, earn more money with less effort, and strengthen your freelance writing career without driving yourself query-crazy.
  • Smart Ways to Build Your Author Platform:You’ve probably heard that editors and agents look for authors who’ve built a platform—and/or that a platform is key to promoting self-published books successfully. But what exactly platform means and how it differs for fiction & nonfiction writers has been the subject of much debate. In this session, get perspectives from both sides of the desk, as an editor-turned-author shares what publishing pros really want to see in an author and what those theories look like in practice. You’ll begin to define a strategy for making yourself stand out; understand how to put a basic framework in place (if you don’t already have one) with a website, email list, and social media presence; focus your efforts on doing a few things well rather than trying to be everywhere at once; explore partnerships with likeminded writers to broaden your reach; and get tips for landing freelance writing credits to boost your visibility.

With nearly 20 years of experience, I am open to customizing other sessions in my wheelhouse for your budget and needs. Contact me to get started.


  • “Jessica delivered exactly what we look for in faculty for our writers’ conference – a luncheon keynote and instructional sessions that both inspired and elicited interaction. She was engaging, insightful and stimulating. Her presentations generated a memorable experience for our attendees and quite a number of “aha” moments. She was a delight.” —Jama Kehoe Bigger, Director, Midwest Writers Workshop
  • “Jessica delivered the kickoff ‘inspiration’ talk at the Saturday Seminar portion of our 32nd Annual Writers’ Workshop ... and an inspiration it was! Her carefully prepared, yet warmly delivered keynote offered plenty of reassurance, encouragement and guidance, coupled with practical how-tos and tips. After her presentation, Jessica also took questions from our audience of fifty-plus writers in a manner that was gracious, thoughtful and insightful. Jessica provided a winning combination: in-depth experience from years of working with the top authors of our day plus a humble presentation style that conveyed that we’re all on this writing journey together equaled exactly what our audience of beginning to more advance writers needed: inspiration and roll-up-your sleeves techniques that set a positive, energizing tone for our whole conference. Our post conference survey results showed that Jessica is one of the most popular speakers we’ve engaged. I would gladly recommend Jessica as a speaker for any writing conference, and look forward to having her back in the future.” —Sharon Short, Executive Director, Antioch Writers’ Workshop
  • “As keynote speaker of the 2019 University of New Mexico’s Writers Conference, Jessica Strawser delivered an informative, entertaining, and inspiring presentation which attendees are still talking about. Jessica is an engaging speaker with a unique insight into the publishing industry as both a seasoned editor and a successful writer. … She was a true asset to our conference and her shoes will be hard to fill next year!” —Lorena Hughes, UNM Writers Conference Coordinator
  • “[Your keynote] inspired the entire room with the way you channeled and paid forward the wisdom of so many authors—yourself included. We also greatly appreciated how you engaged so enthusiastically with our members throughout the conference. An absolute pleasure. —Hilary Hauck, President, Pennwriters
A private book club event at the Western Hills Country Club.
Onstage with the incomparable James Patterson in September 2019.