Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illinois Networks

NETWORKS offer easy, handy access to programs, writing groups, networking opportunities and other interested (and interesting!) writers and illustrators. Check below for your particular NETWORK’s time, location and Shop Talk.


Networks are free and open to all. You many attend any Network at any time, not just the one in your area.  All Network participants agree to abide by our SCBWI Anti-harrassment Policy.


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

Fall 2018

(Updated 01/2018)


Illustrators’ Networks

Chicago-area Illustrators’ Network


Rich Green – 815-341-0925
Pav Kovacic 773-490-5902 

Monthly Meeting: 

The Chicago- Area 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.

September 8th: Meeting Room B

Creative Bank Accounts: Filling Them Up and Cashing Them Out – Let’s talk about gathering & organizing references, looking for things that can inspire & help define your personal style, and take part in some exercises that can help you ‘withdraw’ from your creative bank account when you work on your illustrations.

We will also have a short recap of the SCBWI LA Summer Conference from those who attended.  

Finally there are two illustration contests fast approaching.  If you are participating in one or both we encourage you to bring your work in progress and the group can provide peer feedback leading up to your submissions.  Those contests are the Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s Day Art Contest (entry due Sept 15th) and the SCBWI Narrative Art Award (entry due Sept 17th).  


October 6th: Meeting Room C

Facing Your Fears: An Artists Crash Course in Survival – We are all afraid of something when it comes to creating art, pursuing a freelance illustration career and more. Member Leslie Johns will join us as we talk about those fears and how to overcome them!

If you are planning to attend the 2018 Prairie Writer’s and Illustrators Day we will also preview the faculty and discuss Conference etiquette do’s/don’ts and setting realistic expectations.   Be sure to ring your portfolio if you would like group feedback as you prepare for the event. 

November 10th
Meeting Room C

Graphic Novels with critically acclaimed and award-winning illustrator Lucy Knisley.  Join us as Lucy shares how she goes about creating personal, confessional graphic novels and travelogues.  

To learn more about Lucy and her books please check out her website:


December 9th (Sunday) – Holiday Brunch:

Bring a dish and join us as we gather for a casual brunch and enjoy a chance to mingle and celebrate the holiday season.  Location information will be made available closer to the event.  


SCBWI-IL Members:

You can also join in the fun at our SCBWI Illinois Illustrators Network Group over on Facebook – request to join here:

SCBWI member illustrators please make sure you are on the illustrator listserv for updates….to be added please email Rich Green



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.

Sat. Sept. 8th: 9a – noon. S.C.B.W.I.-IL DOWNSTATE ILLUSTRATION GROUP MEETING. Wildflour Artisan Bakery and Cafe, 256 W. Main, Decatur, IL. Shop Talk, Critiques, and Final Plans for our Illustration Show & Workshop in Staunton this November.

Downstate Illustration Show:

Friday, Nov. 9 – 30, 2018: S.C.B.W.I.-IL Downstate Illustration Show @ the MAC, Macoupin Artist’s Cooperative, 214 E. Main St., Staunton, IL. Opening Reception 6 – 8pm on Friday, Nov. 9th. If you are interested in participating contact Louann Brown (newlou2008(at) as soon as possible.

Saturday, Nov. 10th FREE S.C.B.W.I.-IL Downstate Illustrator’s Children’s Workshop, for kids (8 to 18 years old). 10a – 12a Space is limited. Call 618-635-2015 to reserve a spot.


Diversity Network

Diversity Network

Representative: Donna Beasley

We meet the first Wednesday of each month. NEW LOCATION Oct. and Nov. after Treasure Island where we were meeting closed unexpectedly. Check back for Dec. location.

Upcoming Diversity Network Meetings –First Wednesday of each month – Join us!

  • Nov 7, 7:00-9:00 pm
    • Craft Workshop – Show Don’t Tell
Hyde Park at the Polsky Center
1452 E. 53rd St. 2nd Floor, Kimbark Room. 

Diversity Network Representative: Donna Beasley

FREE and open to non-members as well as members.

Wheelchair accessible. Contact with any additional accessibility needs.

We can bring in our own food and wine to share with each other.

About our Diversity Network…

Every month, FREE, non-members welcome. If anyone needs additional ADA support such as sign language interpreter or other resources, please email  Donna Beasley in advance.

Diversity Network Meetings create 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.

Because of the breadth of this focus, we will be particularly conscious of the intersectionality of oppressions and identities. Allies are welcome. (An ally is a person who supports, empowers, or stands up for another person or a group of people.) 

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

– Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s

Writers’ Networks

Chicago Network


Jane Hertenstein (773) 303-4089
Savy Leiser 

The Chicago Network will be taking a break for the Fall.  Check back for exciting upcoming Winter Programming!


Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  


YA panel discussion

Friday, November 9th, at 57th Street Books,

Five AMAZING area authors share their expertise.


6:30-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov 9th

Featuring Gloria Chao, Samira Ahmed, Jessie Ann Foley, Michelle Falkoff, and Crystal Chan!


These are powerhouse authors, and we’re so grateful they’ll take the time share their expertise — what their creative process looks like, how they landed an agent, how they plot and nail down voice, how they promote their books. Among these authors are a New York Times Best Seller, a Printz Honor winner, Kirkus picks, Junior Library Guild picks, and more!

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.

Program:  YA Author, Kym Brunner

Date:  October 13, 2018
Time:  Doors open at 9:00 A.M.
Program:  9:30-11:30 A.M.

Location:  Old Plank Trail Bank
                 20012 Wolf Road
                 Mokena, IL 60448

Traditionally-published YA author Kym Brunner will speak to us about her journey to publication with agents and editors (along with tips about how to make that journey a little smoother) as well as speak about ways to add humor to our writing. Her published books to date are:  


    ONE SMART COOKIE (Omnific Publishing, 2014) 

    WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE (Merit Press, 2014)    

     FLIP THE BIRD (HMH, 2016 hardcover / paperback, 2018)


Check them out and bring your questions! This program will be sponsored by SCBWI SOUTHLANDS, but writers from all ages and levels are encouraged to come. We hope to see you there!

Please park in side or rear parking lot.
To register please e-mail Jim Danielson at:
Program is free for SCBWI members, $3.00 for non-members

Northern Suburbs

Cook County (North Suburban Network)


Carolyn Crimi 
Anny Rusk 

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


October 10th at The Book Market, 2651 Navy Blvd, Glenview, IL. 847-904-7304

Insights from the Front Line: Holly Alexander Takes Us Inside the Minds of Her Customers (What books they want and why) and What Goes on Behind the Scenes in a Bookstore  Last year’s event set records for attendance, so we convinced Holly to come back.

Holly Alexander has put children’s and teen’s books into the hands of customers for almost a decade. She has worked as a buyer and seller for indie bookstores, such as Barbara’s books, and now works as a children’s manager at the Barnes and Noble store in Deerpark.

Although indie and corporate bookstores run differently internally, identifying what a customer wants, and then hand selling those books to them is universal. Holly has done everything from buying books/merch, to creating displays/events, to putting the right book in the customer’s hand.

Holly will focus on her experience, trends, overall inner workings of book stores, and which books are most popular with customers and why. Like last year, Holly is offering a free critique to each person in attendance. (Full picture book or first 50 pages of chapter/ teen book preferred hard copy). Holly’s critiques are unique, in that they are from the bookseller/buyer’s POV.

If you miss Holly’s event, you can contact her for a paid critique through her new business, Sprout Literary Consulting:


Nov. 14th at The Book Market, 2651 Navy Blvd, Glenview, IL. 847-904-7304

Need Some Fresh Story Ideas? YA author Sarah Hammond to the Rescue

Interested in channeling your inner child/teen to uncover some new story ideas? Join Sarah Hammond to learn about the inspiration for her writing and engage in some exercises to brainstorm new story ideas. Relevant to beginner and more experienced writers. 

Sarah Hammond is a British author, now settled in Chicago. She has written for teens, The Night Sky in My Head (OUP) which was nominated for four awards in the U.K., and a picture book, Mine! (Parragon). She also enjoys running generative writing workshops for youngsters and adults alike. 



Far Northern Suburbs

Far North Suburban Network

Erica Weisz 
Kim Oclon 


Join us on the 1st Wednesday of every month from 7-9pm;

David Adler Music and Arts Center
1700 North Milwaukee Avenue
Libertyville, Illinois 60048

September- Starting with an Intention

With some of the techniques we learned from Jenny Meyeroff in her Writing from OM presentation, we’ll get ourselves ready for a new year with SCBWI. We’ll do some writing exercises and reflect on what we’ve been working on recently. Bring your laptop, pen/paper, whatever you like to use to write.  Also, please share any books you read over the summer that others might like. Any age group, any genre!

October- Critiques

If you’d like to share, please bring about ten copies of a maximum five pages double spaced. Remember our guidelines for critiquing: be constructive and positive. 

November- Behind the Scenes: Publishing

Come get an inside scoop of what goes into creating and bringing to life your story from the publishing process, from submission to editing to print. Join publisher Erica Weisz, founder of Trism Books, as she shares her insight. Come with questions and get ready to be empowered to get your story out there! 

Far Northwest Suburbs

Far Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell
Katie Sparks 

Open Critique- NEW DAY AND TIME!
Third Thursday of each month, 6:30 – 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
If you are a first time attendee please RSVP Jennifer Wagh 

Western Suburbs

Oak Park and Near West Suburban Network


Sarah Hammond 
Karen Walker Ward 
Sallie Wolf 

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

Programs: 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

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


Sept. 13—Field Trip to the Butler Center for Children’s Books

 The Oak Park/near west Network is lucky to have the Butler Children’s Literature Center right in our backyard, so to speak. The Butler Center is part of Dominican University, funded by the Butler Family Foundation, and provides book reviews, programming, and education for Dominican’s Library Science and Education students. The Center room itself is located in Dominican’s Library building and is a lovely space, full of recent children’s books, including galleys and F&Gs. Meaning they have access to the latest books, often before they reach bookstores and library shelves.

Join us Sept. 13 to tour the space, learn what resources are there, and find out how we can collaborate and support each other in our efforts to connect books and children.

You can go directly to the Butler Center, in the Library of the Dominican University (7900 West Division Street, River Forest, IL 60305, T: 708-366-2490.) 

If you need a ride or wish to carpool, please use our Facebook page, SCBWI-Illinois Oak Park and Near West Suburban Network, to connect with others in our group. If you are not on Facebook, email Sarah Hammond or Karen Walker Ward directly. It would be helpful if you RSVP to Sarah Hammond ( so we can let the Center know how many bodies to expect. The Butler Center has been reserved from 6:30-9:30 pm for our edification. Come early and browse. Stay a little later and catch up with our network members.

Oct. 11–Critique night—Main Oak Park Library, Second Floor Book Discussion Room–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.

Nov. 8–Laura Montenegro—Exploring Picture Books—Main Oak Park Library, Second Floor Bookn Discussion RoomPicture books are one of the most exciting art forms and one cannot but be fascinated by their never-ending complexity of structure and form.  In this exciting hands-on picture making workshop, we will look at and explore a highly innovative picture book structure and create our own simple picture books based on this form. All are welcome—beginners and experienced.

Dec. 13–Critique/Holiday Party—location will be announced in Dec.– Critique night followed by a social gathering (details of social gathering to follow). 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.

LaGrange – Naperville Network

Cathy Velasco
Mary and Rich Chamberlain 

LaGrange-Naperville Network meets three times a year on Saturday mornings at

Fountaindale Public Library
300 W Briarcliff Road

Quarterly Meeting

Saturday, Sept 15, 10 a.m. – noon

The Naperville-LaGrange SCBWI Network will feature an agent during the talk, Mastering the Query and other Agent/Author Relationships. Tina P. Schwartz, Founder & Literary Agent of The Purcell Agency, LLC, will give us tips on how to send out brilliant queries and tell us what to expect in agent/author relationships from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, September 15 at Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook.

She will discuss how to write an excellent and engaging query. And, for an extra bonus, those who attend can submit to her agency after her speech and until Nov. 1st, 2018. However, you must attend to have that extra treat! Her agency is currently closed to unsolicted submissions except from those they invite from conferences. Tina is looking for YA & Women’s fiction, nonfiction, realistic fiction, coming-of-age sports, romance, friendship, family and LGBTQ. Sorry no picture books or science fiction/fantasy. Here’s more information about Tina’s agency: www.ThePurcellAgency. com.

If you want to attend the talk please RSVP by Sept. 9th to Cathy Velasco

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

Rockford Network


Karin Blaski

Jennifer Loescher



Join us on the 1st Tuesday of every month from 6-7:30 pm. Our meetings are free and open to all.


Winnebago Public Library

210 N. Elida Street

Winnebago, IL 61088


Sept 4: Planning Meeting

Meet local writers and help plan our first year as a network.

Oct 2: Workshop

Bring a story idea and a multi-colored package of sticky notes. Jennifer will lead you in sticky note plotting your story using David Macinnis Gill’s Plotcasters series.


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 – 7:30 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

Elaine Bearden  
Deb Aronson 

Programs and Shop Talks:

Shop Talk, Saturday, October 6th, 2-4 p.m.: This will be a chance to chat up with your fellow writers, ask questions, and share your own experiences in a bucolic setting. so save the date!     


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


Dawn Malone (

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

Sept. 6th. ‘TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT: The Ins and Outs of Magazine Writing.’ Dawn Malone and Laurie Swindler will share tips about writing short fiction and non-fiction pieces for magazines in the kid lit market. 


Oct. 4th. CRITIQUE GROUP NIGHT. Get feedback on your current work-in-progress. Manuscripts will be assigned to either a picture group or a MG/YA group, and must be submitted to the group the week prior to the meeting. More details to follow.


Nov. 1st. BOOK TALK. A show-and-tell of new books hitting the shelves this fall, from picture books to young adult. NOTE THE LOCATION CHANGE: this meeting will take place in the Normal Public Library boardroom at 6:30 p.m.


Dec. 6th. HOLIDAY PARTY. Location and time to be announced.

Springfield Area Network

The Scribes

Debra Daugherty 

Upcoming Programs:


Monday, September 10, 2018

Meeting at Chatham Library, 200 E. Spruce, Chatham, IL 62629

Time: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (5:30 – 6:00 is social time. Meeting starts at 6:00.)

Program by Kimberly Hutmacher – author of 25 books and over 150 pieces of poetry, fiction and nonfiction for the magazine market – Presentation – Poetry 101.

Also, critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

All are welcome to join us.


Monday, October 1, 2018

Meeting at Chatham Library, 200 E. Spruce, Chatham, IL 62629

Time: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (5:30 – 6:00 is social time. Meeting starts at 6:00.)

Guest speaker author Ruth Souther. Program: How to Create a Plot Arc & What Makes a Great Character.

If time, we will also do critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

All are welcome to join us.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Meeting at Chatham Library, 200 E. Spruce, Chatham, IL 62629

Time: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (5:30 – 6:00 is social time. Meeting starts at 6:00.)

Writing prompts session. 

Also, critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

All are welcome to join us.

Questions or for directions, contact Debra Daugherty, above.



Southern Illinois

Edwardsville Network

Paul (Geoff) Rutledge 
Chris Cannon  

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.