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 



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 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.

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

June 4, 2019 – Monthly Meeting

Topic: Alice McGinty Workshop – The Psychological Connection: Emotional Power In Writing

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

Time: 7:00 pm

Fee: Free

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.


July 2, 2019 – Monthly Meeting

Topic: Stoking the Fires of Creativity

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

Time: 7:00 pm


Come join the fun as we hone our creative writing chops by creating a story with 25 words only, from a writing prompt.


August 6, 2019 – Monthly Meeting

Topic:  Illustrator’s Showcase

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

Time: 7:00 pm   


Illustrators come share and discuss your work past, present or future.

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  

WHEN: 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, July 26th
WHERE: 57th Street Books, 1301 E 57th Street in Hyde Park
COST: Free!


Please join us for a spectacular evening featuring Alexandra Weiss, Associate Agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency!

Cutting to the chase: Alex says she’s actively building her client list with a focus on picture books, middle grade, and YA, fiction and nonfiction.

RSVP: To so we can get a headcount.
Come for the wisdom, stay for the brownies!

Alex will be open to participants sending her queries after the big event! So make sure you attend July 26th so that you can hear the secret password to use when you submit your manuscript! 

MORE ABOUT ALEX: Alexandra Weiss is an Associate Literary Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing from Columbia College Chicago, and currently resides in the Windy City. She has written for Bustle as a Books and Features Writer, and has held several different positions within the Marketing and PR world. Previously, she was an Acquisitions Editor for an award-winning fiction and non-fiction anthology. Before joining as an Agent, Alexandra interned with JDLA for over two years and worked for boutique book publicist where she assisted with numerous book publicity campaigns.

Alexandra specializes in children’s fiction, including fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and young adult. She is open to most genres but tends to favor contemporary, magical realism, light fantasy, and science fiction. She also loves stories that include magic, folklore, science, astronomy, or anything STEM related. She’s actively seeking literature from diverse and underrepresented voices, and is eager to find stories with strong, smart female characters.


We hope to see you this summer!

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 



June 12th

Barbara Binns at Book Market; 7-8:30p

2651 Navy Blvd, Glenview 

Writing Outside your Demographic

Have you ever wanted to expand your writing to include characters who are not like yourself? The problem is writing those characters when you don’t know them from experience. The typical advice authors hear is to “do research and treat the character with respect.” In reality, a successful author needs to gather a set of tools to help them perform cultural research, and to craft these characters, locations and situations in a non-stereotypical fashion. 

Barbara Binns started developing these tools while writing PULL, a novel written from the POV of a seventeen-year-old male. She feels lucky she had no son when she began writing. That forced her to adopt techniques from “method acting” to make characters so realistic reviewers were certain the author was male. (And had to be a basketball player as well). She has written both novels and short stories featuring characters of various genders, sexual orientations, and races. Her most recent novel is a middle grade story with a diverse cast of characters titled COURAGE, published by Harper Collins in 2018. She also teaches a course about adding diversity to writing. She has addressed the American Library Association, Illinois Library Association, the Chicago North Spring Fling writer’s conference, and the National Conference of African American Librarians on subject like growing and enhancing their multicultural collections.  


July 12th 7-8:30 p

Suzanne Slade at Book Market; 2651 Navy Blvd; Glenview

Researching/Writing Picture Books with an Emphasis on STEM

Suzanne Slade will be visiting in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing (July 20, 2019.)

Test your space knowledge with a “To the Moon” Apollo quiz, hear about Suzanne’s 2979 day journey to create her middle grade, novel-in-verse COUNTDOWN: 2979 DAYS TO THE MOON (see below), and learn about the importance of writing about your passion. You can ask all your out-of-this-world questions during an “Ask Anything” time and get your own Space Selfie (you in a space suit!) 

Suzanne Slade is a self-professed nerd and the award-winning author of more than 100 children’s books. A Mechanical Engineer by degree who worked on rockets, Suzanne often write about space topics and women in STEM. She also enjoys sharing fascinating, little-known facts about famous historical figures. Some of her recent titles include: A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, The Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon (2019 NSTA Best STEM book), Astronaut Annie (read by an astronaut on the Space Station), Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, Dangerous Jane, The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue and The Inventor’s Secret.  

Aug 14th 7-? Summer Soirée, Location TBD

Far Northern Suburbs


Far North Suburban Network

Erica Weisz 
Kim Oclon 


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

Summer Critiques : 

June 5 , July 10, August 7

Summer Location Change: 

Barbara’s Bookstore 

Hawthorn Mall, 720 Hawthorn Center, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 


Come join us for Summer Critique Sessions. If you are interested in sharing, please bring up to 5 double-spaced pages, 12 point font,  5 copies. As always, remember the rules of critiquing, be as positive as possible, yet give something constructive for the author to work on.


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: 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

Saturday, June 22, 10 a.m. to noon, Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W. Briarcliff Road, in Bolingbrook, IL 60440.


Join Illinois native Eileen Meyer as she shares the twists and turns she encountered in the process of selling her forthcoming picture book, THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN: Poems About our 16th President (Charlesbridge, November 2019). Eileen will also share her top tips for children’s writers seeking publishing success (Q&A included).

We will meet from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 22 in Meeting Room B at Bolingbrook’s Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W. Briarcliff Road, in Bolingbrook, IL 60440.

Please R.S.V.P to Cathy Velasco by June 19th at Coffee/Tea shop open on first floor. Please feel free to bring your favorite snack and drink. 

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


Summer Break June & July. No meeting.

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 St, Winnebago, IL 61088
August 6, 2019, Tuesday, 6:00-7:30 PM
We’re coming up with a Top 10 List of recommended writing craft books for children’s book authors that the Winnebago Public Library will post in their newsletter and make available to library patrons.
Come prepared to discuss your favorites that you think should be included.

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 (


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, June 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.)

Writing prompts using The Writer’s Toolbox.

Critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

All are welcome to join us.


Monday, July 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.)

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.

Critiques on pages by members.

All are welcome to join us.


Monday, August 5, 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.)

Program by Louann Brown on PowerPoint.

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.

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.