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, Deb Aronson, Assistant Reginal Advisor

Winter 2020

(Updated 12/2019)


Illustrators’ Networks

Chicago-area Illustrators’ Network


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

The Chicago-Area’s Illustrators Network meets monthly from September through May.  Meetings are free and open to the public and include a topic discussion, presentation or guest speaker.  We also leave time at the end of each meeting for peer review of works in progress, book dummies and portfolios.  So be sure to bring yours along!

The Chicago-Area’s Illustrators Network meets monthly from September through May.  Meetings are free and open to the public and include a topic discussion, presentation or guest speaker.  We also leave time at the end of each meeting for peer review of works in progress, book dummies and portfolios.  So be sure to bring yours along!

Saturday, January 25th

Topic: Special Guest Jackie Alcántara

Location: Meeting Room “C”

Des Plaines Public Library,

1501 Ellinwood Ave.

Des Plaines, IL. 60016

Time: 9:30am-Noon

Join special guest Jackie Alcántara  as she discusses the making of her brand new book Freedom Soup. Jackie will also talk about illustrating with authenticity and how to know if a manuscript is right for you.

Saturday , February 29th

Topic: Mock Caldecott

Location:  Meeting Room “C”/Des Plaines Public Library/ 1501 Ellinwood Ave./Des Plaines, IL. 60016

Time: 9:30am-Noon

The annual Caldecott awards are given out in January of each year.  We will be bringing in as many of the nominated and winning books as possible to hold our own mock vote.  Then we can compare our winner vs. actual winner.  This is a great chance to experience the books, discuss them in the group and learn more about the industries likes compared to our own.  Everyone is asked to bring in a “wildcard” book, which was not nominated but was your personal favorite book released in 2019.  These will be included in our mock voting.

SCBWI-IL Members:

You can also join in the fun at our SCBWI Illinois Illustrators Network Group 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 Cedric Gliane.


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.


Diversity Network

Representative: Donna Beasley

December 4, 2019 -Celebrate Your Writing Pizza Party

Topic: Let’s take time to reflect on our writing accomplishments at our final Diversity Group meeting of the year. Join us for a Pizza Party and share what you’re proud of this year.

Location: Medici Restaurant 1327 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL

Time: 7 pm

Cost: Free

Diversity Network Representative: Donna Beasley

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


January 8, 2020 – 

Topic: Hot Chocolate Bring a Friend Social

Location: Cafe 53 Restaurant 1369 E. 53rd Street, Chicago

Time: 7 pm                             Cost: Free



February 5, 2020 – Critique Day

Topic:Bring in up to 3 pages and read what you are working on to receive critiques from the group. Must be present to be critiqued.

Location:Cafe 53 Restaurant 1369 E. 53rd Street, Chicago

Time: 7 p.m.



Wheelchair accessible. Contact with any additional accessibility needs.


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

January 16

Topic: Picture Book Critique

Location: Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson, Chicago

Time: 7 – 9 PM

If you have a manuscript or work-in-progress, RSVP for this critique session.


Street parking available


February House Party

This has become an annual thing for us. If you have a house or apartment and want to host, please contact Jane and co-rep Mary Jo will bring everything necessary for a party.


March 26

Topic Character Critique

Location: Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson, Chicago

Time: 7 – 9 PM

If you have a manuscript or work-in-progress, RSVP for this critique session. We will pay special attention to character and character development. Please bring 5 pages that exemplifies your character or the first 5 pages of your manuscript.


Street parking available





Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  

December ‘Picture Book Bacchanal’ at 57th Street Books

You asked for more picture book programming, and we’re answering! SCBWI-Illinois’ Hyde Park/ South Side of Chicago Network invites you to a Picture Book Bacchanal! Join Chicago-area picture book authors and illustrators for a  discussion about craft, cracking the publishing forcefield, finding an agent and all the ins-and-outs of writing and illustrating fiction and non-fiction picture books.

WHEN: 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, December 6

WHERE: 57th Street Books, 1301 E 57th Street in Hyde Park

WHO: Six Chicago-area authors and illustrators

  • Betsy Bird with The Great Santa Stakeout
  • Elizabeth Brown with Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler
  • Lori Degman with Like a Girl and Just Read
  • Claudia Guadalupe Martinez with Not a Bean
  • Junli Song with Cherry Moon: Little Poems Big Ideas Mindful of Nature
  • Patty Toht with Dress Like a Girl, Pick a Pumpkin, and Pick a Pine Tree

Come shop for all the people on your holiday lists, mix ’n’ mingle with other SCBWI folks, and join us in a little merrymaking! As always, come for the wisdom, stay for the brownies — and a bit of eggnog!

Please RSVP to so we can get a proper headcount. Hope to see you there!

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 

Wednesday, January 8
Topic: Breaking into the School Library Market and Beyond
Location: The Book Market
2651 Navy Blvd
Glenview, IL
Join Rebecca Siegel, author of more than 200 nonfiction children’s books, as she discusses her career as a work-for-hire writer in the School Library Publishing world. Siegel worked as an editor at a School Library publisher for seven years before becoming a full-time freelance writer. Today, she writes several books a year for publishers such as Capstone, Lerner, ABDO, the Smithsonian, and more. She will share her tips for breaking into this industry– complete with concrete tips on how to write your cover letter, what to include in your writing sample, and how to interact with your editors. Finally, she’ll discuss how she used her background in School Library Publishing as a springboard for a major trade book deal with her forthcoming Scholastic title: TO FLY AMONG THE STARS: THE HIDDEN STORY OF THE FIGHT FOR WOMEN ASTRONAUTS.
Saturday, February 29
Topic: Publishing 101: Behind Closed Doors With A Publishing Executive
Location: Pianoforte
1335 S. Michigan Ave, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL
 Time: noon-2pm
Join John Shableski, VP of Sales and Director of Education Development at Udon Entertainment, for a discussion about what you should do before you submit your manuscript to an editor, and what happens to your manuscript once you submit it to a publishing house. Bring your questions for the Q & A afterwards.
Besides his work at Udon, John is on the board of Reading with Pictures, was on the board of BEA (Book Expo America), and did library sales at the beginning of his career.
Though he’s considered an expert in graphic novels, John says his talk will cover all book formats. “Whether it’s a graphic novel, or a Middle Grade book, the acquisition process is the same.”
Please RSVP to for this special event by 2/25.



Far Northern Suburbs


Far North Suburban Network

Erica Weisz 
Kim Oclon 


Join us on the 1st Wednesday of every month at:


David Adler Music and Arts Center

1700 North Milwaukee Avenue

Libertyville, Illinois 60048

Time: 7-9 pm

December 4: Gift of Time

Join us for our annual tradition of snacks, socializing, and maybe even some writing! If you would like, bring a snack to share and anything you need to write (notebook, laptop) to use your gift of time.

January 8 :  Critiques 

If you would like to share with the group, please bring 7-10 copies of your work. Pages should be double-spaced, 12 point font, and one inch margins.

February 5: Critiques

If you would like to share with the group, please bring 7-10 copies of your work. Pages should be double-spaced, 12 point font, and one inch margins.



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.



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: Main Library 

Main OP Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301, 708-383-8200

Dec. 12–Holiday Party

Jan. 9—Mentor Texts– Do you know what a Mentor Text is? Basically, it’s the book you wish you had written–it’s your kind of book. For our January meeting we are asking everyone to bring in at least one book that inspires them, that is a model for what they want to write. Share why this book speaks to you and we will discuss how we can use mentor texts to inspire and guide our work.

Feb. 13—critique

March  (More details to come) The Butler Center is busy with classes on our usual meet up date. We are working with them to arrange a possible Sat. meeting that may be craft oriented, working from their collection of folk and fairy tales; or we may possibly have a local publisher come to present. Details to be determined! Check back often!

April 9—critique

May 14—Kate Hannigan—Kate Hannigan has a nonfiction graphic novel coming out in June with First Second. It’s about the Chicago Fire, part of their new History Comics series. She will talk about the nuts and bolts of scripting a graphic novel, and also about how she has managed to be so prolific while raising a family!

The Oak Park/near west Network takes June, July, and August off. We return in September.

Bolingbrook-Naperville Network

Cathy Velasco
Mary and Rich Chamberlain 

LaGrange-Naperville Network meets three times a year from 10 a.m. – noon,  Saturday mornings at:

Fountaindale Public Library
300 W Briarcliff Road

January 25

10 a.m. to noon

Coping with Your Inner Critic

Whether you’re a beginning writer or an established professional, you’ve likely struggled with the inner critic — that nagging voice in your head that berates you and disparages your work. What if you could turn that critic into an ally? In this presentation, author and writing teacher Carmela Martino shares techniques to transform your inner critic into a writing assistant, or at least to quiet the critic long enough for you to get some writing done.

Please join the LaGrange-Naperville Network from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, January 25, at the Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W. Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook. We will meet in Meeting Room B on the main floor. There is a coffee/tea/snack shop on premises. Please reserve a spot by January 23 at


Geneva Network


Janet Riehecky 847-695-9781 
Cheryl App 

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



Northern Illinois


Rockford Network


Karin Blaski

Jennifer Loescher

All meetings held at the Winnebago Public Library

Address: 210 N Elida St, Winnebago, IL 61088

Contact: Karin Blaski,


January 7, 2020

Topic: Creative Problem-Solving For Your Writing Troubles

Time: 6-7:30 PM

Start off the new year on the right writing foot! Bring a writing problem that needs to be solved from your current work in process. As a group, we’ll brainstorm possible solutions using an A-Z list of creative problem-solving techniques which can help overcome everything from writer’s block to info dump. List of techniques provided.


February 4

Topic: For the Love of Writing Craft Books

Time: 6-7:30 PM

Bring your favorite writing craft book, such as Bird by Bird, Writing with Power, Writing Down the Bones, Writing Without Teachers, or Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. Be prepared to read a section(s) at the meeting and how/why it’s been helpful and we’ll discuss.


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


Sarah Tobias

Shop Talk & Critique Session:

The third Wednesday of the month, January through November, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the Adult Services Study Group, Room 1, of the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak Street, DeKalb, IL 60115 

No meetings in December



Central Illinois


Central Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) Network

Elaine Bearden  
Gabriela Romero


Bloomington/Normal Network

(Near-Normal Writer’s Group)


Dawn Malone (

Looking for new leadership. Please contact Dawn if you’re interested in hosting a program.

Springfield Area Network

The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 

Upcoming Programs:

Monday, January 6

Topic: Discussion on Writing Picture Books

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

Time; 5:30-7;30 (5:30-6 is social time. Meeting starts at 6 pm.

Discussion on Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul. Members are to read assigned chapters from this book and discuss how we can apply what we learn to our own work.
Assignment: Members are to make a dummy for one of their PBs and bring it to the next meeting.
Writing prompts.
Critiques on pages by members.

All are welcome to join us.

Tuesday, February 3

Topic: Book Dummies

Location: Chatham Library, 200 E. Spruce, Chatham, IL 62629

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

Members will share and discuss their book dummy.Discussion on query letters.
Critiques on pages by members.

All are welcome to join us.

Questions or for directions, contact Debra Daugherty, above.

Schedule may change due to inclement weather.


Southern Illinois


Edwardsville Network

Juli Caveny
Bonnie Swanson 

Monthly Critique Meeting:
We meet at 6:30 on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at Books A Million in Edwardsville. Contact reps if you have any questions!


Fairview Heights Network

Amilia Lingel  
Katie Otey 

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