Illinois Networks

NETWORKS offers easy, handy access to programs, writing groups, networking opportunities and other interested (and interesting!) writers and illustrators. Check below for your particular NETWORKS’ time, location and Shop Talk. Networks are free and open to all.

Interested in starting a NETWORKS group in your area? Contact NETWORKS
Coordinator, Alice McGinty (

Summer 2017

(Updated 6/1/2017)


Illustrators' Networks

Chicago-area Illustrators' Network


Terri Murphy 847-394-5011 (
Janet McDonnell 847-632-1918 ( 

Monthly Meeting: The Illustrators Network meets once a month at the Des Plaines Library, 1501 Ellinwood, Des Plaines, IL, from 9:30 until noon.  If time permits, we reserve the last part of the meeting to critique members' current works-in-progress or portfolio reviews.

SCBWI member illustrators, make sure you are on the illustrator yahoogroups listserv for updates….or contact Terri Murphy at the email address shown here to be added.

Scheduled Meetings:

The Illustrators Network is takes a break from meetings for the summer months. We will reconvene in September. But check the listserv for information on potential field trips, and if you have an idea for a field trip, feel free to post it! Have a creative, art-filled summer!

Downstate Illustrators' Network

Louann Brown 217-839-3264 (
Jerry Barrett 217/621-1369 (

Shop Talk & Critiques. Optional lunch afterward at a nearby location:

QUARTERLY MEETINGS:   This Network meets at various locations throughout the mid-central area.  We maintain a Facebook page (Downstate Illinois SCBWI Illustrators) for critiques and information sharing between meetings. If you’d like to join us, send us a request via Facebook or email one of the network reps. At our meetings we typically discuss markets, critique work and share our journey. Everyone is welcome.


Saturday, June 10 @ 9:30 a.m.
Decatur Public Library, 130 N. Franklin, Decatur, IL.

Join the SCBWI-IL Downstate Illustration Network for an introduction to “Gelli Printmaking” with Tara McClellan McAndrew. We will meet in the Children’s Auditorium on the 2nd floor of the Decatur Public Library, 130 N. Franklin, Decatur, IL.

For more information contact Louann Brown,

Sat. September 9: Downstate Illinois SCBWI-IL Illustrators, Shop Talk and Critiques, 9a-Noon, Wildflour Artisan Bakery & Cafe, 256 W. Main, Decatur, IL. 

Sat. Nov 11: Downstate Illinois SCBWI-IL Illustrators, Virtual meeting (Skype.) Contact Louann Brown newlou2008 (at) for instructions.

Diversity Network

Diversity Committee Network

Diversity Committee:
Susanne Fairfax 312-543-3056 (
Urania Smith (
Cedric Gilane

Saturday, June 3: SCBWI-IL Diversity Network House Party 

It's a BBQ! Diverse writers, Illustrators, and allies, come out and join us for our first Diversity Network House Party. Bring your business cards to swap, books to display or sell, and a bottle of wine to share. Please RSVP for location . We hope to see you there! 

July 12: An evening with PAL Illustrator Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Location:University of Chicago Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, 5733 S. University Ave. – Chicago, IL 60637. Click on our flier for complere details.

This is a space where writers and illustrators who’ve traditionally been left at the margins in children’s publishing can get together. At these meetings we’ll build community, share stories of hurdles and successes, work to dismantle barriers, improve diversity and inclusion in children’s literature and SCBWI-IL, work on our craft and further our writing and/or illustrating careers. And there will often be snacks. Feel free to bring a tasty treat to share.

Our focus on diversity springs from the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

Because of the breadth of this focus, we will be particularly conscious of the intersectionality of oppressions and identities. Allies are welcome.

The building is ADA compatible – it has a ramp, electronic door openers and an elevator. If anyone needs additional ADA support such as sign language interpreter or other resources, please email in advance.

Street parking is often best on Midway Plaisance down the street.
Public Transportation info at CTA

Writers' Networks

Chicago Network


Jane Hertenstein (773) 303-4089 (


First Pages with Savy & Jane

Tuesday, August 8, 7 – 9 pm

Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson 7 – 9 pm (arrive by 6:30 if you want a beverage)

west door if arriving after 7 pm


Need a critique? Here is a way to meet up with fellow writers. We will be looking at first pages only—perfect for novelists to assess if they have hooked a reader—perfect for the picture book writer, as we can take a look at the whole thing. Come with your page and we will take turns. No need for copies or sending out before meeting.




Chicago – Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  (


Check back soon for some exciting upcoming programming!

Chicago's Southland Network


Jim Danielson 708-596-4479 (
Linda Dryfhout (

For more information and current shop talk topics, visit the Chicago Southland blog at

Shop Talks: 

Second Thursday of every month.

Evening Talk Only: 7 P.M., Barnes and Noble, 105 Orland Park Place, LaGrange Rd. (Rte. 45) & 153rd St. in Orland Park. 

Northern Suburbs

Cook County (North Suburban Network)


Carolyn Crimi (
Anny Rusk ( 

Shop Talk:
Second Wednesday of each month, from 7-8:30 p.m.



June 14th at 7p-8:30p

The Book Market
2651 N. Navy Blvd
Glenview, IL 60026

Picture book writers are invited to bring and read their manuscripts for
feedback from SCBWI Illustrator Network artists Brad Cornelius, Janet
McDonnell, Terri Murphy, and Sourcebooks, Inc. art director, John Aardema.
 We’ll touch on scene changes, page turns, pacing, character development,
story arc, and visual variety in regard to your stories! Contact Anny Rusk
to be put on the manuscript list at

Brad Cornelius began illustrating professionally at age 15, designing
cartoon characters for the Girl Scouts of America. The more Brad studies
drawing and painting, the more he understands that story is paramount.

Janet McDonnell is an Illinois SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator whose most
recent book is "Blossom Plays Possum (because she's shy)" from Magination

Terri Murphy is a published illustrator of children's books and magazines, a
youth librarian and the SCBWI-IL Illustrators Network Coordinator.


July 12th 7-8:30p

The Book Market
2651 N. Navy Blvd
Glenview, IL 60026

Why You Should Write for Children’s Magazines

Even if you’re working on or have published longer work, having a few
credits in respected kids’ magazines can never hurt a query letter!
Jestine Ware, editor of SPIDER magazine (for children ages 6-9 and part of
the acclaimed and award-winning Cricket Magazine Group) will give an
informal presentation to inspire writers and illustrators to consider
submitting to magazines for kids, where there’s a monthly demand for
material. Jestine will give a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes
process—from calls for submissions to slush pile reading to planning,
designing, editing, and illustrating. She’ll also touch on submissions for
Cricket’s family of magazines: BABYBUG, LADYBUG, CLICK, ASK, MUSE,
CRICKET, CICADA, COBBLESTONE, FACES, and DIG. Finally, author Pamela Dell,
who writes SPIDER’s monthly fictional “Doodlebug and Dandelion” series,
will join the conversation to address the editing process from the fiction
and non-fiction author perspective.

Hope you can join us!

August 9th  7 p.m.
Summer get together – Venue to be announced


Far Northern Suburbs

Far North Suburban Network

Erica Weisz (
Kim Oclon (

Join us on the 1st Wednesday of every month from 7-9pm, at:
David Adler Music and Arts Center
1700 North Milwaukee Avenue
Libertyville, Illinois 60048

During June, July, and August meetings we will devote time to critiques, provide writing time, or simply provide support to anyone who needs some encouragement with a current project.

Far Northwest Suburbs

Far Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell (
Katie Sparks (

Open Critique
Third Wednesday of each month, 7 – 9 p.m. in the cafe of Barnes & Noble, 590 W. Golf Road, Schaumburg. All meetings are open critiques with the last half hour dedicated to answering any new writer questions. 

Dundee Area Network


Jennifer Wagh (
Jennifer Kaap  (

Shop Talk/Critique Session
Second Wednesday of the month 7-9 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
Barnes and Noble (at Spring Hill Mall), 1444 Springhill Mall Blvd. West Dundee, 60118

Western Suburbs

Oak Park and Near West Suburban Network

Karen Walker Ward (
Sallie Wolf 708-848-1385 ( )

Shop Talk: Second Thursday of the month, 7 – 9 pm Our meetings are free and open to all. 

Oak Park Dole or Main Library – See dates for which branch.

Dole Library, 255 Augusta Blvd., Oak Park (708-386-9032)
Main OP Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301, 708-383-8200


June 8, 2017 — Dole Library — Critique night—manuscripts, art, or submission materials (queries, proposals, cover letters) will be thoughtfully and respectfully considered. Time will be apportioned evenly among participants. If we have more than 10 people with work to share, we will consider the first 10 to arrive and reserve a spot for any others for the next. critique. 2-3 copies to pass around is helpful and not required. Even if you do not have work to share, you can learn a lot by hearing others' work and weighing in with your thoughts.

July 13—Main Library, 2d Floor Book Discussion Room: Writing from Observation—in search of a character. Participants will explore the park and nearby environs to find a potential character. After observing carefully they will return to the library to imagine the characters observed at a different age—who was your character when he/she was the age that you want to write for/about?

Aug 10—location TBA: Critique Night. Supportive, respectful feedback. It is not necessary to bring a copy for everyone, but 2 or 3 extras that can be passed around are sometimes helpful. Bring work to read or art to show. Time will be apportioned among the participants. Those who do not get a chance for critique will be taken first at the next critique night.

Sep 14—location TBA: Opening Lines—be on the lookout for great openings in books of all genres/age levels. We will examine great opening lines and then take a look at our own mss to see how our openings might be improved. Great preparation for mss and first pages you might submit for PWID for critique.

Oct 12—location TBA: Critique Night. Supportive, respectful feedback. It is not necessary to bring a copy for everyone, but 2 or 3 extras that can be passed around are sometimes helpful. Bring work to read or art to show. Time will be apportioned among the participants. Those who do not get a chance for critique will be taken first at the next critique night.

LaGrange – Naperville Network


Fran Sammis (
Cathy Velasco,

Quarterly Meetings:

This network will hold quarterly meetings, which will be held on weekday evenings or Sat. mornings at the Lisle Public Library, 777 Front Street, Lisle IL 60532  (630) 971-1675

Stay tuned for upcoming programming.

Geneva Network


Janet Riehecky 847-695-9781 (
Cheryl App (

Shop Talks:
First Wednesday & fourth Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m.
Barnes and Noble, 102 Commons Drive, near Randall Road, Geneva

Northern Illinois

Freeport/Rockford Area Network


Leone Anderson 815-947-2780 (
Debbie Deutsch 815-235-8899 (

Critique Session/Shop Talks:

Fourth Saturday of each month
Freeport Public Library 10-12 p.m.

Please contact Lee or Debbie to verify dates/locations.

DeKalb Area Network


Larry Vint (

Shop Talk & Critique Session:

Last Wednesday of the month, January through October, 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the Children’s Storytime and Craft Room of the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak Street, DeKalb, IL 60115

Central Illinois

Central Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) Network

Ruth Siburt  ( )
Deb Aronson  (

Programs and Shop Talks:

DATE: Tuesday, July 4

TIME: Noon-3

PLACE:  Clinton Lake Sailing Club ~ Clinton Lake is located roughly 35 miles from Champaign/Urbana or Bloomington/Normal. The CLSA pavilion is best reached from Route 10 south of the lake. Find White Pigeon/Marina road and drive north. Take the entrance to Clinton Lake Marina and look for our facility just north (to your right) of the marina grounds.

This link will also help:

And for those who like GPS coordinates, they are:  +40°8'54.92", -88°49'33.06"

WHAT TO BRING: Swimsuit, hat, sunglasses, sunblock, water, paper and pen. FAMILY WELCOME!!!


·         Ride on a sailboat

·         Instruction on sailing (optional)

·         Lunch and cold drinks

·         We’ll try some fun, low-key writing exercises (just to justify our gathering!)

·         GOOD TIMES!!

Bloomington/Normal Network (Near-Normal Writer’s Group)

Laura Pashley (
Kathryn Ault Noble

The Bloomington/Normal Network meets regularly on the first Thursday evening of the month, at 6:30 p.m. Contact Reps for more information.

Springfield Area Network

The Scribes

Debra Daugherty (     

Writing/Critique Group/Shop Talk: Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month, 5:30 P.M., Chatham Library, Chatham, IL

During summer months, holidays, or if you are wanting to inquire about the group, please contact Debra Daugherty for details.


June 5, 2017 – 6:00 P.M.
Chatham Library, 600 E. Spruce St., Chatham, IL 62629

Author Jessica Rubinkowski will be speaking on writing tips, voice, querying, and the publication process, with Q & A at the end.

Program is free and all are welcome.

Questions or for directions, contact Debra Daugherty at

Southern Illinois

Edwardsville Network

Samantha Winkler   (
Paul (Geoff) Rutledge (

Monthly Critique Meeting:
Usually 3rd Wednesday of the month. Contact reps for meeting place and time.

Fairview Heights Network

Leia Johnson (
Katie Otey (

Monthly Critique Meeting:
Usually 3rd Wednesday of the month. Contact reps for meeting place and time.