A Cafe Chat with Editor Laura Whitaker, by Lindsay Bandy

IDA Design

IDA Design

This weekend, we are delighted to host the fabulous editor Laura Whitaker! We’re lucky enough to have her as a faculty member for our upcoming Pocono Retreat. (It’s DAYS away, people! Hooray!) Here comes Laura…


Lindsay: Hi there, Laura, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! We’re so excited to have you as a faculty member for the upcoming Pocono Retreat! As we settle into our comfy booth, what will you have to drink?

Laura: Thanks so much for having me, Lindsay. And, may I say, what a delightful cafe! I’m eager for summer, so I’m imagining we are sitting on delightful comfy lounge chairs on a beach…watching the waves roll in and sipping a glass of superb Chardonnay.

Lindsay: It is definitely a portable AND classy establishment. Anything to munch on?

Laura: Oh my. Perhaps bacon wrapped dates? A cheese and fruit plate? Prosciutto wrapped melon? How does that sound?

Lindsay: All of the above! And let’s just top off those Chardonnays while we’re at it. So, I know you are working on your cooking skills. What’s your best dish currently?

Laura: Boursin smashed mashed potatoes and garlic and brown butter sautéed chicken breasts. Truthfully, I inherited my grandmother’s mashed potato casserole dish and welcome any opportunity to pull it out.

Lindsay: What was your funniest food fail?

Laura: I accidentally pulled out and used the salt container rather the sugar container. Needless to say, my triple chunk brownies did NOT turn out edible. Yikes.

Lindsay: Congratulations! You can design your very own spot on Candy Land. What character are you, and where do you live?


Laura: EXCELLENT question. I would be Frostine and live in Lollipop Woods in a treehouse fort I weaved out of licorice. The licorice would be provided by Lord Licorice, of course. I always thought his sour disposition could be cured with a bit of sun by my Ice Cream Sea.

Lindsay: Ooh. I’m never going to look at Candy Land the same!

So, book-lover to book-lover, what was the last book you read that made you….

 Laugh out loud? Meg Cabot’s ROYAL WEDDING…the 11th Princess Diaries book. I have always been a HUGE fan of The Princess Diaries series, and was lucky to snag an ARC of the next installment in Mia’s story.

royal wedding

Cry? I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. I cried buckets. It’s such a beautiful story.

i'll give you the sun
Jump? PEGASUS by Robin McKinley. Robin’s best work feeds the soul and awakens the imagination.


Stay up past your bedtime? Malinda Lo’s ASH. So good. Even better than I had expected.


Lindsay: As social media platforms are becoming increasingly important in the publishing industry, many not-yet-published writers are overwhelmed and confused about how to create a meaningful social media presence. What’s one step writers and/or illustrators can take to improve their web presence?

Laura: Join Twitter and make an effort to retweet or comment on five posts a day. It will expand your knowledge of the industry and your awareness of what the children’s book community is talking about. It will also expand your friend base!

Lindsay: Great advice! And an easy goal to set. Thanks! So, as an editor that has dealt with a wide variety of material, what is one thing that always grabs your attention in a….

 Picture book manuscript? A fantastic opening line with at least one, vibrant, memorable, totally unexpected word that sparks my imagination.
Middle grade novel? An unusual, three dimensional secondary character.
Young adult novel? Heart. When I can immediately empathize with a character…feel like he/she/it is real and feel an overwhelming desire to unravel the intricacies of his/her/it’s life circumstances/hopes/dreams/undisputed reality . . . I’m sold.

Lindsay: And on the flip side, what is one thing that always turns you off in a….

Picture book manuscript? 

Middle grade novel?

Young adult novel?

Laura: My answer would be the same for all three . . . a writer writing to trend, rather than choosing to be brave and fearless and write from the heart.

Lindsay: You are invited to a baby shower and asked to give a picture book in lieu of a card. What book do you choose for the special babe?

Laura: PENGUIN AND PINECONE, written and illustrated by Salina Yoon. One of the best friendship stories I’ve ever read. The people who shape our lives the most are never those we expect.


Lindsay: What’s your best one-liner of advice for aspiring writers and illustrators?

Laura: Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments, every day. It doesn’t matter whether you wrote one word today or 20,000. You found the courage to write. That’s all that matters.

Lindsay: And now, for rapid-fire favorites! Name your favorite….

Thing about New York: Food.

TV series: Outlander

Shade of nail polish: Glitter?

Animal: MINIATURE SCHNAUZER! Well, dog, to be more general.

Type of shoe: High heeled pumps.

Vacation spot: Hilton Head, South Carolina

 Lindsay: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Laura! Looking forward to learning more from you in just a few days!

Laura: I look forward to meeting you all!

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4 Responses to A Cafe Chat with Editor Laura Whitaker, by Lindsay Bandy

  1. Virginia Law Manning says:

    Thank you, Lindsay! I enjoyed learning a few fun facts about our faculty editor! I can’t wait to meet Laura this weekend!

  2. Nadine Poper says:

    Thank you for the great picture book advice!

  3. Looking forward to this weekend. I got a sneak peek of Laura on Kristen Fulton’s webinar and am looking forward to meeting in person!

  4. I love Yoon’s books, but I haven’t read that one. My go-to baby gifts (for books) have been from Nancy Tillman and Betsy Snyder. I’ll have to add this one to my baby shower gift list.

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