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 may 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 

Spring 2019

(Updated 03/2019)


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.

March 16th: Meeting Room changed to 4th Floor “The Forum” of the Des Plaines Library

Digital Deep Dive

Got yourself a shiny new iPad and trying to figure out how to use Procreate?  Work traditionally but have always wished you could use digital tools to refine/enhance your work or simplify your process?  Already know a bit about Photoshop but would love to learn more tips and tricks?  Wondering how to use 3D tools to help you with perspective and creative point of views in your illustrations?  Then we have the meeting for you!  Join us as we take a deep dive into all thing digital!

April 13th:  Meeting Room A

Digital Deep Dive Follow Up & Prep for the Marvelous Midwest Conference

We’ll begin by answering some of the most asked follow up questions from our Digital Deep Dive in March. Then we’ll help you get ready for the Marvelous Midwest conference coming up in May. This conference is bigger than Prairie Writer’s Day and has a lot more going on. We’ll go over the faculty and breakouts that are of interest to illustrators as well as giving everyone a chance to get feedback on their portfolios, dummies, and any other art they plan to present at the conference.

May: Date and Meeting Room TBA

Yay! I’ve Got an Agent! Now What Do I Do?

 We are very excited to see that some of the members of our Illustrators Group have recently signed with agents! They have been kind enough to offer to come in and tell their stories of querying and signing with agents as well as discussing what the next steps are for them now that they have representation. This will be a casual discussion/Q&A so come ready to listen, ask questions, and be inspired by their success! We will also do a recap of the Marvelous Midwest conference, as well as setting up Summer Accountability Buddies for those interested.


The Illustrators’ Network takes a summer hiatus from June through August.  Have a great summer and we will see you in September!

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. March 9,  9:30am at the Wildflour Bakery and Cafe, 256 W. Main in Decatur. 

Bring what you’ve been working on to show and tell or have critiqued. If you have a new process to share bring it as well. 

We will set our agenda for the rest of the year at this meeting, so bring ideas. Let’s keep the focus on our illustration journey: perfecting our work, keeping up with opportunities, discovering new things.

Looking forward to seeing you all. Here’s hoping for good weather!

Diversity Network

Representative: Donna Beasley

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 -Monthly Meeting

Topic: Pitch Practice

Location: Polsky Exchange at 1452 E. 53rd St, 2nd floor, Chicago

Time: 7:00 pm


A good pitch is the best way to get a literary agent to read your novel or picture book. We will review  what makes a good pitch and then practice pitching. Bring a 2-paragraph summary of your story and be prepared to do a 2-minute or less pitch. Below are 5 Questions You Should Address in Your Pitch.

What is the title, genre, and word count?

What is the setting?

Who is the protagonist?

What is his or her conflict?

What does she or he have to do to overcome this conflict?

Tuesday April 2, 2019 – Monthly Meeting

Topic: Meet the Illustrators

Location: Polsky Exchange at 1452 E. 53rd St, 2nd floor, Chicago

Time: 7:00 pm


Two illustrators will showcase their work. And there will be a discussion of the illustrations from 3 recently released children’s books.

Tuesday May 7, 2019 – Monthly Meeting

Topic: Critique Day

Location: Polsky Exchange at 1452 E 53rd St, 2nd Floor, Chicago

Time: 7:00 pm   


Bring in up to 3 pages and read what you are working on to receive critiques from the group.

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

Thursday March 14, 7 – 9 PM

First Pages

Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson


street parking available

Saturday, April 6, 1 – 3 PM

The Need for Multi-Cultural Stories

Donna Beasley of KaZoom Publishing

Everybody’s Coffee, 939 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL

 Donna Beasley is the founder and president of KaZoom Digital Publishing and KaZoom Kids iStory Books. Unable to find a book that her six-year-old African-American niece could relate to and enjoy, Beasley decided to do something. KaZoom Digital Publishing’s mission is to bring greater diversity to children’s literature by publishing books by and for the African-American and Hispanic communities.

 In addition Donna will talk about the different ways the Society for Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is working with writers on diversity initiatives, such as the Many Voices Outstanding Manuscript Prize. The Illinois chapter of SCBWI is working to make the children’s book world more diverse, equitable and inclusive.


Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  


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.


The Psychological Connection: Emotional Power in Writing

DATE:​​Saturday, April 13, 2019

TIME:​​Doors open at 9:00 AM​​Program 9:30 – 11:30

LOCATION:​Old Plank Trail Bank

​​20901 South La Grange Road

​​Frankfort, IL


 Cost:​​SCBWI Members are free

​Non-Members are $3.00

 SCBWI Southlands is pleased to have author Alice B. McGinty speak to our group on the psychological and emotional aspects we can bring to our writing. Alice is the author of over 40 books including her most recent picture book, Pancakes to Parathas: Breakfast Around the World.  Alice is also the Co-Regional Advisor of the Illinois Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

 Program description from Alice’s web site ( ):

The books we love best are the ones that touch something deep within us.  Why do these books move us?  Explore the elements which give writing depth and power by uncovering the psychological elements below the surface.  This program examines what psychologists have learned about human emotion and behavior and applies that knowledge to the art of children’s literature and writing.

All are welcome to join us!

To register, please e-mail Jim Danielson:  JDWRITES4KIDS@GMAIL.COM

Northern Suburbs


Cook County (North Suburban Network)


Carolyn Crimi 
Anny Rusk 

Shop Talk:
Second Wednesday of each month, from  6:30-8 p.m.

The Book Stall at Chestnut Ct 811 Elm Street, Winnetka 847-446-8880


Wednesday March 13th

The Book Market

2651 Navy Blvd

Glenview, IL

Experiences with Publishers Great and Small

Did you ever wonder if the publishing grass is greener with a different size publisher?  Come hear Marlene Targ Brill discuss her experiences with publishers great (think NY big five) and small (startup indies) and those in-between (university, educational, and indies that are gobbling up other small publishers.  Marlene, author of 72 books, has been around the publishing block for a long time and has lots of stories about the business of publishing–and it is a business.  Bring your own stories to share for a lively discussion.


Wednesday April 10th

The Book Market

2651 Navy Blvd

Glenview, IL

Turn Plodding Plots into Exciting, Sensational Stories

Matt Bird, author of “The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers” from Writer’s Digest Books, will return to SCBWI to talk about plot: Ways to make your plot engaging, how to turn around plot points that aren’t working, and how to make plot turns believable and compelling. 




The Book Market

2651 Navy Blvd

Glenview, IL

Who Should Tell Your Story? 

Point of view colors every aspect of one’s book, from how characters are perceived, to which details are shared, to voice, perhaps the biggest thing that draws in young readers. But many of us aren’t sure who should tell our stories. 
Sharon Darrow, whose recent book is Worlds Within Words, will share her vast insights on the pros and cons of different POVs, and how to decide which one is right for your story.

Sharon Darrow was a member of the faculty of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts, from 1997 to 2018. She also taught at Columbia College Chicago in the English department from 1996 to 2003. She is the author of Picture Books (Old Thunder and Miss Raney, art by Kathryn Brown; Yafi’s Family, co-author Linda Pettit, art by Jan Spivey Gilchrist; Through the Tempests Dark and Wild: A Story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankenstein, art by Angela Barrett) and Young Adult novels (The Painters of Lexieville and TRASH). Her poetry for young people has been included in Home to Me: Poems Across America, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and her poems, short stories, interviews, and personal essays for adults have appeared in literary journals Rhino, Folio, Whetstone, ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Columbia Poetry Review, Great River Review, Other Voices, The Writer’s Chronicle, and in the anthology, In the Middle of the Middle West, edited by Becky Bradway. Her most recent book for adults is Worlds within Words: Writing and the Writing Life.

The Darrow Lecture Series, named in her honor, is held annually in Montpelier, Vermont, with lectures delivered by distinguished authors who are graduates of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

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

March – Critiques — If you wish to share your work with the group bring about eight copies no more than five double spaced pages with a one-inch margin and 12 point font. Please remember the guidelines for critiques: be positive and constructive.

April –  We will continue our revision exercise from February. If you didn’t get a chance to come, don’t worry! Bring two pages of something you haven’t shared before or the next two pages of the work you shared in February. Join us in an interactive workshop focusing on editing your novel or picture book. Bring in  three copies, double spaced, 12 point font.  

Working with other writers, you will share your pages  in order to find where your writing is the strongest and where it can be amped-up.

May – Let’s celebrate the hard work we’ve done this year by hosting our own reading! Snacks will be provided as you share a picture book you’ve been working on or 3-5 pages of a novel in progress. No critiquing, no suggestions, just a round of applause and congratulations.


Far Northwest Suburbs


Far Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell
Kathleen Reitmann 

Open Critique- NEW DAY AND TIME!

Northwest Suburban section hosts an open critique night 6:30-9pm on the Third Wednesday of the month. Please join us in the café area of Barnes & Noble 590 E. Golf Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173   Contact reps: Veronica Rundell  or Kathleen Reitmann for more information.

Special Programing:

 Monday, February 4th 7-8:30pm: An Evening with Agent, Sara Megibow

Location: Mt. Prospect Library (10 S. Emerson, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056)


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.

March 14, 2019

Program description: Trish Schacht, psychology professor at North Central College and Child

Development specialist, will present on what kids can comprehend at various ages and what is the best way for us to present ideas to them? When writing for an audience of a particular age, how can a writer structure stories in a way best understood by that age group?

May 2, 2019

Program description: Sharon Darrow, author, poet, and teacher will present a program based on her new book, Worlds Within Words: Writing and the Writing Life. Sharon teaches at the MFA program of Vermont College. She is the author of numerous books including Trash; The Painters of Lexieville; Through the Tempests Dark and Wild: A Story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankenstein; and Yafi’s Family: An Ethiopian Boy’s Journey of Love, Loss, and Adoption. Her shorter work has been published in numerous anthologies. Visit Sharon’s website:

The Oak Park/near west network will take the summer off and resume programming in September.

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 – Next Meeting will be held this summer


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

Critique Workshop: Beginnings

Tues, March 5, 6-7:30pm

Join us for a critique workshop focused on the opening pages of a manuscript. All participants must e-mail ten double-spaced pages (or one picture book) for critique to by Monday, February 25th. Participants will be e-mailed critique guidelines and manuscript pages one week prior to our workshop discussion. Be prepared to give your written critique notes to each author after the discussion. 

Craft Workshop: HOW – From Theme to Synopsis

Tues, April 2, 6-7:30 pm

Kids are taught to use WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE to start a story. Adult authors tend to focus on WHO – their beloved characters. For this workshop, we’re going to scramble those three letters to instead start with HOW. Generating HOW questions will help us unpack the nuanced truths about our individual story themes. Come with a new or existing story theme idea. Leave with a logline and synopsis to aid in your first draft or revision. Please bring paper and / or a laptop to work with. 

Guest Speaker: Know Your Audience – What Can YA Writers Learn from the Stories Teens Tell

Tues, May 7, 6-7:30pm

Create emotional resonance and deepen your stories by exploring how today’s teens are facing experiences different from our own. Discover how 20+ years of listening to teenagers can inform the writing process and help us generate stories teens want to read. 

Elizabeth Wheeler writes, teaches, and directs. As a teacher, she’s inspired by the real-world examples of how students, facing adversity, persevere and transform into triumphant adults. As an advocate for student storytelling in the print, performance, and digital world, she has spoken internationally as well as at educational and literary conferences. The Asher Trilogy, an award-winning young adult series, follows two years in the life of Asher Price as he uses his passion for photography to make sense of his crush on Garrett, his parent’s divorce, and his faith. A fifth generation Floridian, Elizabeth now lives in Illinois with her two kids, two cats, and one husband. She will graduate with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in July.

You are welcome to bring your own copy of her books to be signed after the event.

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

No meetings in November or December



Central Illinois


Central Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) Network

Elaine Bearden  
Deb Aronson 

Programs and Shop Talks:

Now that the holiday season is shifting into full gear, I’d like to invite you to the annual SCBWI-east-central-Illinois holiday gathering. As we have done the past couple of years, we will hold a very informal but friendly and non-denominational party at Fiesta Café (216 S. First St, Champaign)  5:30-7:30 Thursday, December 6. Mark your Calendars!!

We will have some low-key, writing-related ice breaking activities, but we’ll mostly just get together to share some holiday cheer. Fiesta makes a mean margarita and the food is hearty and flavorful.

There is no cost to attend, but we would encourage everyone to order dinner and/or drinks as a way to thank the folks at Fiesta for hosting us.

Please consider joining us to ring in the holiday season. In order to plan for space needs at the restaurant, please RSVP at your soonest convenience to Deb Aronson.


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.


Springfield Area Network

March 7, 6:30 p.m. CRAFT TALK. First United Methodist Church, 211 N. School Street, Normal. Parking is available in the church lot, and at the Bone Student Center across the street.

Dr. Mary R. Ryder will present, “The Magic of the Literary Device: Making Writing for Children Distinctive and Memorable.” This program focuses on integration of literary and stylistic devices which, when used judiciously in works for children, can make those works unique. Included will be discussion of figures of speech, types of repetition, rhetorical devices, and stylistic variants. Using Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, along with other examples, this program hopes to make writers more aware of how they might enhance their own works to make them memorable and stand out among the many manuscripts that cross editors’ desks. Dr. Mary R. Ryder holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and is a Distinguished Professor Emerita of English from South Dakota State University.

April 4, 6:30 p.m. CRITIQUE GROUP NIGHT. The Coffee House & Deli, Beaufort St., Normal.

Get feedback on your current work-in-progress. Manuscripts will be assigned to either a picture book group or a MG/YA group, and must be submitted the week prior to the meeting. Deadline for submitting: March 29th (no exceptions since people need time to read to give constructive feedback). More details to follow.

May 9, 6:30 p.m. AUTHOR STUDY: Kate DiCamillo. The Coffee House & Deli, Beaufort St., Normal.  One of the best ways to grow as a writer is to read, and what better author is there to learn from than the award-winning Kate DiCamillo? This month we’ll each choose one of her books to read (there is something for everyone!), focusing on how she develops her characters. Then we’ll get together, share book summaries and what we’ve learned. For a list of DiCamillo’s works, check the files on our Facebook page.


The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 

Upcoming Programs:

Monday, March 4, 2019

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.)

February’s assignment was to write 6-10 author interview questions to exchange with members. Tonight, we share our answers.

Critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

All are welcome to join us.


Monday, April 1, 2019

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.)

Critiques on pages by members.

Discussion on Query letters and following agent and publisher guidelines when submitting.

Assignment: Bring a sample query letter for members to critique.

All are welcome to join us.


Monday, May 6, 2019

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.)

Critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

Writing Prompts.

All are welcome to join us.


Questions or for directions, contact Debra Daugherty, above.

Schedule may change due to inclement weather.

Questions or for directions, contact Debra Daugherty, above.



Southern Illinois


Edwardsville Network

Juli Caveny
Bonnie Swanson 

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.