Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ask Infowoman: A Library Consult – Kathy Halsey!

Welcome to another Special Edition of Tuesday Debut, everyone!

I’m so excited for you to see what we have in store today!

Our last visitors, 5 members of Picture Book Junction, were kind enough to begin our education in how picture book collaboratives can benefit us as authors.

Today’s visitor, the one and only Kathy Halsey, has come to share her fabulous new business for authors, Ask Infowoman: A Library Consult, an amazing resource that can help us with school visits!

I usually put our visitors’ photo and bio at the end, but today it seems appropriate to put it first so you know who you’re talking to and how qualified she is! 😊

Kathy Halsey is a children’s author who grew up climbing trees, reading mysteries, and writing poetry in her diary. Currently she serves on the State Library of Ohio’s “Choose to Read Ohio” program and writes curricular toolkits for SLO’s award-winning children’s books. She also spends time digging in gardens, writing haiku, and working with her writing group, The Saucy Supremes. Kathy is a former K-12 school librarian, seventh grade English teacher, and bookseller for a children’s independent bookstore.

Kathy serves as SCBWI Ohio Central-South Co-Assistant Regional Advisor and received a 2019 PBChat Mentorship. She’s proud of her role as Storyteller Academy’s first Community Manager and volunteering in several roles for the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, including that of President and Past President. She lives in Columbus Ohio with her husband and rescue Corgi Scrappy Doo and roots for the Buckeyes and the Bengals.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Kathy! Thank you so much for joining us today! I can’t wait to hear all about your new business, and I know everyone is excited to learn how it can be helpful to them.

KATHY: Happy Tuesday, all! I’m thrilled to be here to talk about a new business adventure I’ve created that I hope benefits those who do or want to do author visits. I’m also happy to share that my first work for hire novelty board book, Be A Rainbow, comes out fall of 2023 from KiwiCo Press! It will be available exclusively to deluxe subscribers of KiwiCo’s Panda line in conjunction with the Let’s Move! Crate. (How that came about is a story for another day!)

I’ve known Susanna since I took her Making Picture Book Magic course when I was a rookie writer. That was a foundational class and many of my good author friends came from her first classes. We met once in real life at a NE SCBWI Spring Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. Our other connection is that we both love groundhogs. Susanna featured female groundhog power with Punxsutawney Phyllis and I was born on Groundhog’s Day. Hurray! Having Susanna feature me is like an early birthday present!

SUSANNA: So, Kathy, what gave you the idea for this business?

KATHY: I was casting about for a unique idea for an auction the NE SCBWI Whispering Pines Writing Retreat sponsors. The conference is made more affordable because of the yearly auction of one-of-a kind baskets and writerly goods. Attendees donate books or critiques by authors such as Rajani LaRocca and Chris Mihaly. Even a weekend on Cape Cod was offered one year.

Since I fly in from Ohio, schlepping a basket wasn’t an option. I had to think out-of-the-box. That’s when I came up with the idea of “Ask a Librarian.” Of course, it wasn’t Cape Cod, but a few people bid on my consultation. That was the seed for my business, and I didn’t even realize it then!

SUSANNA: How did you come to start it?

KATHY: Fast forward to a year or two ago, and you, Susanna, were looking for more prize donations for one of your contests. I offered my library consultation package as I wanted to give back to you for all your support to the writing community. Thank you! (I’ve participated in the Valentiny, Halloweensie, and Holiday contests for years.) I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in my donation, but one of the top 10 winners of your contest picked me as a “prize”! Your encouragement made me think, hmm, maybe I have something here.

Last year, one of my goals was to explore this idea again as a side gig since the query trenches were so slow. What did I have to lose? I asked some of my author friends if they’d be willing to beta test the service and give me a recommendation if they found it useful. And, another surprise, they did!

For six months I offered suggestions: how to make author visits more interactive, how author visits look from the teacher-librarian POV, and how to allay your qualms and know what to expect if you’re a newbie. I also evaluated slide shows for grade level interest and curriculum tie-ins. With good reviews like the one I’m sharing here; I was ready to move forward.

Kathy is an author’s dream come true in understanding the inner workings of schools, how to approach school visits, and how to craft a presentation and workshop that will delight and educate kids while helping teachers accomplish their goals. She knows how the sausage gets made and is more than willing to share. Having access to a former librarian’s insights is invaluable for authors, and I’d strongly recommend her services – Leigh Lewis, Children’s Author, Picture Books and Middle Grade

At the end of 2022, I began a website update, designed a tier of services, and renamed my business Ask Infowoman: A Library Consult. Since my website is still under construction, I estimate the service for authors and illustrators will launch no later than mid-February.

SUSANNA: Who designed your logo?

KATHY: Believe it or not, my hairstylist designed the logo. She’s passionate about reading to her daughter. We’re always sharing our favorite picture books. Abi offered to help me with the website refresh and the logo design since her marketing and social media skills are better than mine.

Abi suggested we rebrand with colors that align with my new passion for informational fiction, the intersection of nature and science, and haiku. Hence, the cool logo! As we kid lit folks know, it takes partnerships to make our creative endeavors better.

SUSANNA: What qualifies you to be helpful in this area?

KATHY: I’ve always enjoyed teaching. In fact, I taught 7th grade for 17 years and was a K-12 school librarian for 15. My new business helps me combine many of my interests and talents. Plus, I found out that through my beta testing period, I really like helping other authors and myself at the same time. I see it as a win-win situation for everyone involved.

As a school librarian, I coordinated many successful author visits over the years in elementary schools and middle schools. I know what makes a successful visit for teachers, students, and the authors themselves. And, after I retired, I worked at an independent children’s bookstore, Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers. I learned more about the book business in that environment— another venue for author events.

Finally, I have been a presenter myself at library conferences, literary conferences such as the Virginia Hamilton Multicultural Conference, and I volunteered in the school system where I retired visiting classrooms to share literature and writing techniques. I feel I’ve had my foot in every aspect involved in the author visit. As a librarian who loves to share information, I want authors and readers to benefit from what I’ve learned over the years. There’s nothing better than a great author visit. That reading excitement that is generated can last a long time and create more engaged readers and writers.

SUSANNA: How can authors and illustrators benefit from what you offer?

KATHY: As mentioned above, I can tailor slide presentations to make them fit the curriculum and the audience. I can also coach those who have little public speaking experience and help them learn to connect with students. I took storytelling in my library training and can offer advice about making stories interactive and an aural treat for listening.

Since I also write toolkits for the State Library of Ohio’s selected picture books and middle grade books, I’m familiar with American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians guidelines.

I’ve aligned books to NextGen Science standards, Ohio’s English Language Art standards, and the National Council for the Social Studies standards which are organized by grade band. This knowledge base gives my clients ways to highlight the educational value of school visits to use in book promotion, and in promotional copy for websites or flyers advertising visits.

SUSANNA: I think I’d better be first in line to sign up for your services, Kathy! Wow! How much does it cost? Are there different levels of cost? What are they?

KATHY: At this point, I am still structuring costs of this service. I am sure that I will be giving a discount the first month or two. I will be booking 45–60-minute Zoom or phone chats. If clients want to add a la carte services or additional time my rates will reflect that, too. (I do know that I will not be creating lesson plans or book toolkits.) I plan to make Ask Infowoman: A Library Consult service affordable. As a children’s author myself, I know we all need to stretch our money!

Susanna, in closing, I’d like to thank you so much for hosting me on Tuesday Debuts! I’ve been a loyal reader of your blog and books, and this is such an honor!

SUSANNA: You most certainly have, Kathy. You’ve been part of my blog practically since it began! 😊 Thank you so much for coming to visit with us today! I know tons of authors will benefit from your business, and I (and I’m sure everyone else!) wish you the best of luck with this new venture!

Readers, if you have questions for Kathy, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! And if you’d like to connect with her online:


Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out HERE!

104 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ask Infowoman: A Library Consult – Kathy Halsey!

  1. Author Anna Maledon says:

    This sounds like a great business idea and one that is needed.

    I’m in Scotland, so things will be different here with different standards, curriculum and even age (kids start Primary 1 at age 4 or 5), but if you had a book/pdf or ebook on the subject I would read it out of curiosity, I will probably discover some tips for myself.

    The Scottish school system is different even from the English one.

    Good luck!

  2. readmybook2002 says:

    Congrats! Love your new business for writers/published or not. Many local writing organizations look for monthly speakers for their meetings. You are a wealth of information. Mr. Dewey would be proud.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      There are so many areas of expertise in the writing world, Bru, aren’t there? Writers, editors, and agents bring their forms of knowledge and perspective, but teachers, librarians, graphic designers, web builders, parents, and kids bring bring different perspectives that can help us with developing story lines, school visits, classroom guides, marketing and promotion, book trailers… the list is endless!

      • kathalsey says:

        So true. I feel like I wrote so many author guides as a school librarian that I wanted to try a different path. Lots of heavy lifting w/standard-alignment.

  3. Ellen Leventhal says:

    I’m so proud of you, Kathy! Honestly, finding someone this qualified and also kind and compassionate is a treasure for all authors doing school visits! Congrats! Thanks, Susanna for hosting Kathey.

  4. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    What a fabulous service you’ve developed Kathy – congratulations!
    Wishing you bountiful success and many exciting opportunities!

  5. Beth Stilborn says:

    Fantastic interview, Kathy and Susanna! I predict many writers will be flocking to Ask Infowoman in the future. So excited for you, Kathy. Congratulations! YAY!

  6. Sue Heavenrich says:

    Three Cheers for Kathy! This will be an amazing resource for writers! So glad to see you find a way to share what you love doing with other writers.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Isn’t it great how people in the kidlit community find ways to use all their unique talents and skills to create not only wonderful books for children, but all kinds of ways to enhance the whole experience for writers, illustrators, teachers, and children?!

    • kathalsey says:

      Aww, thanks, Sue. It’s fun to stretch my wings a bit while I wait for my “Yes” from an agent or editor. Ty for being by my side, writer friend.

  7. heatherstigall says:

    This sounds like an amazing opportunity for authors/illustrators! I can hardly wait for you to launch your business so I can learn more!

  8. rosecappelli says:

    So nice to see you here, Kathy! I feel like I know you through shared events on CtC, although I don’t think we’ve ever met. Congratulations on this new endeavor which will be a much appreciated help to authors who may never have experienced an author visit. Good luck! And thanks for featuring Kathy, Susanna.

  9. marty bellis says:

    Best of luck with this new venture, Kathy! You sound like the perfect person for this service, with your background in education and all your varied experiences. I can only hope that someday I need to avail myself of what you have to offer 🙂
    Meanwhile, I know many others will find your support invaluable. Great idea!

      • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

        It will be because you work hard at learning, and practicing, and improving your skills, Marty! You will succeed because you keep trying and you get better with every ms you write. And one of these days the right ms is going to cross the right desk at the right time. It won’t be luck, it will be prepared success – because you did all the things you needed to do to arrive at that place and that time with a worthy ms!

  10. chardixon47 says:

    Congratulations Kathy! So proud of you. The kid lit community is going to appreciate your knowledge, experience, and kindness. Kudos as you move forward with your new venture and your writing journey!

  11. cathystenquist says:

    Congratulations, Kathy! This is wonderful. So interesting to learn about your vast experience. I have a question… I have been doing visits for a year now. Would you look at slide presentations that have been created and advise? Best of luck to you!

  12. pamelacourtney says:

    As your long-time critique partner, I’m blessed you’re our “go to” resource on everything KidLit and beyond, actually. From your keen eye on grammar (“… let’s make that an appositive”), to your write-on discernment of storytelling (“Oh this is where your inciting incident starts”), to your wealth of knowledge on education, this next adventure is simply an extension, a natural progression of all that you give. All that you do. God’s increasing your territory. So incredibly proud of you.

  13. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    Wow – what an amazing resource! Thank you Kathy and Susanna! Congratulations Kathy on turning your fabulous idea into a business! It will provide so much value to the kid lit community!!

  14. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Yaaaay, Kathy! This is so exciting! I’m sure you’ll be inundated with authors seeking advice! And you know, I plan on taking advantage of your services, too! I want my author visits to be the best they can be. Cheers to your success!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      I’ve been doing school visits for years, Jilanne, but I feel very much that I could learn a lot from Kathy! Having never been a classroom teacher, coming up with a presentation that is entertaining and informative for kids in a large group while staying relevant to the book is always a challenge!

      • kathalsey says:

        Susanna, those large groups can be intimidating. I get it. The keys and we can’t always control them include active teachers who stay with their kids, support for you and the book that begins long before our visits (have kids read it, are admin. aware of the event and support it? Will admin. be there?)

  15. Jana Locke says:

    I love this idea! I have a PB coming out later this year that could very much benefit from this service, so I will definitely be reaching out once you’ve officially launched.

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