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 

Winter 2018-2019

(Updated 11/2018)


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.

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.   

January  12th: Meeting Room C

Children’s Illustration in the Retail Marketplace with Jim Harbison

Jim Harbison, Creative Content Strategist,  has well over 20 years of experience acquiring art for children’s books.  As an independent consultant, he is looking to continue his relationships with local illustrators who might be a good fit for the various projects he advises publishers on.  Join us as Jim discusses how changes in the retail marketplace have created new demands for children’s illustration.  Be sure to bring samples of your work for Jim to review.

February 09: Meeting Room C

Developing your story and creating a book dummy

It all begins with a rough idea.  We will discuss developing that idea into a picture book story and turning that story it into a book dummy.  Pagination, flow, page turns, book sizes, bleeds, gutters, thumbnails, types of illustrations, refined sketches, full color sample illustrations, end papers and covers.   If you have a story idea or book dummy you have already been working on, bring it along! 

March 16th: Meeting Room A

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!

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. 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

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!

December 5, 2018 – Monthly Meeting

Topic: Celebrate Your Writing Pizza Party

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

Time: 7:00 pm

Fee: $5.00 per person

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. The meeting will be Dec. 5th at Medici Restaurant in Hyde Park.


Cancelled:Polsky Exchanged Closed for Holidays

January 2, 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?


February 6, 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.

Hyde Park at the Polsky Center

1452 E. 53rd St. 2nd Floor, Kimbark Room. 


March 6, 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?

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

Creating and Selling a Middle Grade Series

New York Times bestselling author Liesel Shurtliff

Saturday, January 26, 2019 1 – 2:30 PM

Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson, Chicago, 60640

Liesel Shurtliff spun gold out re-inventing fairy tales. Her wildly popular Middle Grade series (Fairly) True Tales Series published by Random House Books for Young Readers spans 4 books, Red, Rump, Grump, Jack. Her latest, Time Castaways: The Mona Lisa Key (Katherine Tegen Books), released September 18th. Time Castaways is a new middle grade trilogy about three city kids who get on the wrong subway train and wind up time traveling. Liesel will talk about the specifics of writing MG and what editors are looking for when considering a winning series.




Street pay parking available.

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.

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  6:30-8 p.m.

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


Dec 12th from 6-10p we’re having our annual Xmas partay.

RSVP to with what dish you are bringing, and I’ll respond with Carolyn’s address.

Jan 9th from 7-8:30p: Come hear Caldecott-wining author and illustrator Matthew Cordell for his discussion 
“WOLF IN THE SNOW: the making-of and the road to Caldecott.” 

The Book Market  2651 Navy Blvd Glenview, IL 

Merriment afterwards for those who’d like at Elephant and Castle across the street

Feb 13th from 7-8:30pm: The Fun, Freaky, and Downright Frightening Truth Behind School Visits
School visit veterans Allan Woodrow and Carolyn Crimi will discuss the ups and downs and in and outs of school visits. Bring your questions!

The Book Market 2651 Navy Blvd Glenview, IL

Merriment afterwards for those who’d like at Elephant and Castle across the street

Extra Event on Sat 2/2/19 at the Book Market with agent Sara Megibow from 6-7:30p. Dinner with Sara to follow.

She will talk about how to write immersive worlds whether Fantasy/Sci-fi or contemporary. We’ve not had a world building discussion before, and as setting can make a book, think Harry Potter, Camp HalfBlood, THUG, Courage by Barbara Binns, this is a chat you won’t want to miss!!

I’m sure she’ll be open to general Q & A too.


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

December- Give yourself the gift of words this holiday season. You bring the pen/paper or the laptop and we’ll give you some writing prompts to get your story going or maybe you’ll discover a new one!

January- Critiques

January 9, 2019 * Please note date change!*

 If you would like to share something with the group, please being 10 copies of the first five pages of your work in progress. Please double space your work and use 12 point font. Don’t forget our critiquing guidelines: be positive and constructive with your criticism.

February 6th-  First Page Edits

Grab your reader’s attention from the very first line! Join us in an interactive workshop focusing on editing your first 2 pages for your novel or picture book. Bring in two copies of the first two pages of your work, double spaced, 12 point font.  

Working with other writers, you will share your first pages in order to find where your writing is the strongest and where it can be amped up. Please bring three different colored writing utensils.



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.

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.

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.

Jan. 10 Critique. Oak Park Main Library Second Floor Book Discussion Room

Feb. 14 Creative Orgy—a night of activities, fun, and games to get your creative juices flowing and jump-start the New Year.

March 14 Childhood Development—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? 

April 11 Critique

May 2 Sharon Darrow—Please note that May 2 is the First Thursday of the month. Sharon will be in town for a limited time so we are adjusting our schedule to hers.—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 Frankensteinand 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

Please join the LaGrange-Naperville SCBWI Network at 10 a.m. Saturday Jan. 26 for the program, “Blasting Off Into Nonfiction: From Work-For-Hire to Trade”

Rebecca Rissman, author of more than 200 nonfiction books, will talk about breaking into the nonfiction world of books for children and teens. Her trade book, “The Space Chase: A True Story of Women and Men Who Tested to Become America’s First Astronauts” with Scholastic – will be out in 2020. She will share her journey from working for hire to landing an agent in the nonfiction world, and blasting off with an amazing book that highlights incredible women!

The program will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 in Conference Room A at Fountaindale Public Library, 300 West Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook.

Please RSVP to by Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.


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


Hello, My Tweet

Sat, Dec 8, 10-12am

Join us for a session on social media with our SCBWI-Illinois Social Media Coordinator, Lisa Katzenberger. Lisa will walk through how to use social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) to connect with the kidlit community, publishing industry, readers, and educators. This session will help you find your unique voice, determine what to say online (and how often), and use tools to efficiently manage your posts.  

Lisa will also have paperback copies of her picture book, Triceratops Would NOT Make a Good Ninja, for sale for $7. You are welcome to bring your own copy of her book to be signed after the event.


Beginning at the End: Informing Today’s Writing By Considering the Future Bookstore Shelf

Tues, Jan 8, 6-7:30 pm

How does a bookseller’s mind work? Which books are parents and teachers excited to give their children? What titles are kids clamoring for? Bookseller, writer, and educator Michael Leali will share his writerly insights from his bookselling life to help writers for children and young adults reach their end goal—getting their stories into the hands of eager young readers. He will provide advice, exercises, and suggestions for every writer who longs to see their writing at their local bookstore. As a prize for select attendees, Michael will read and critique up to 10 pages of writing for children or young adults (all genres) of 10 writers, providing detailed feedback with special insights gleaned from his bookselling experience. Michael is willing to critique work beyond this for a fee. Michael’s critiques will include editorial suggestions, narrative questions and comments, and notes pertaining directly to the interest of booksellers and educators. 

Michael Leali, a former high school teacher, is the Children’s Department Manager for Anderson’s Bookshop in La Grange. Michael will graduate with his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in July 2019. His short story, “Before & After,” appears in 13 Candles: Halloween Tales of Tricks & Transformation edited by Madeline Claire Franklin and Julia Heller.


To Move Forward, Look Back  *New Date*

Sat, Feb 9, 10-12am

Where does a story start? How do you figure out your character’s point of view, rising obstacles, and overall stakes? Sarah Aronson will discuss the importance and process of understanding and discovering your characters’ backstories and misbeliefs to help you reimagine your story’s emotional arc, obstacles, turning points, and tension.

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published three stand alone novels: Head CaseBeyond Lucky, and Believe. Her most recent books are part of a new young MG series, The Wish List, as well as a forthcoming picture book biography, Just Like Rube Goldberg, illustrated by Robert Neubecker.

Sarah’s books can be ordered in advance of the event from Booked or Bookstall. Details on how to order will be available closer to the event. 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.



Come join us at Jesse’s Lounge in the Marriott Hotel for a Holiday Happy Hour on Wednesday, Dec 5th from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. SCBWI will provide some appetizers, and you can purchase other food and drinks as well.

We’ll have our ever-popular book exchange again this year, too! Please bring a WRAPPED children’s book to swap with someone at the party, and label it as either ‘PB’ or ‘MG/YA’ on the outside of the package.

The Marriott is located in Uptown Normal at 201 Broadway Ave. Parking is available in the parking garage across Beaufort south of the Marriott.


Critique Night. It’s time to whip those works-in-progress into shape! If you’d like feedback on your latest picture book, middle grade, or young adult manuscript, submit the full PB or 10 pages (MG/YA). Watch the Facebook page and/or an e-mail for more details.

When: Jan. 10th, 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Coffee House & Deli, Beaufort Street, Normal.


“What’s Hot and What’s Not”

Please join children’s librarian, Danny Rice, as he shares the latest trends and hottest books in children literature.

When: 6:30, Feb 7, 2019

Where: Normal Public Library Board Room



Springfield Area Network


The Springfield Scribes

Debra Daugherty 

Upcoming Programs:

Monday, December 3, 2018

Holiday party at Bella Milano’s for Scribes members,

4525 Wabash Avenue, Springfield, IL 62711

Time: 5:30 PM – ?

Gift exchange and party games.

Monday, January 7, 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.)

Schedule may change due to inclement weather.

Critiques on pages and/or Query letters by members.

Assignment – Write ten questions to ask an author or illustrator in an interview for a blog and bring to February meeting.

All are welcome to join us.

Monday, February 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.)

The interview questions (last month’s assignment) will be passed on to members to answer for next month’s meeting.

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

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.