Illinois Networks

NETWORKS offers easy, handy access to programs, writing groups, networking opportunities and other interested (and interesting!) writers and illustrators. Check below for your particular NETWORKS’ time, location and Shop Talk. Networks are free and open to all.

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

Fall 2017

(Updated 9/2017)


Illustrators' Networks

Chicago-area Illustrators' Network


Janet McDonnell 847-632-1918 
Rich Green

Monthly Meeting: The 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.

SCBWI member illustrators, make sure you are on the illustrator yahoogroups listserv for updates….or contact Terri Murphy at the email address shown here to be added.

Scheduled Meetings:

Sept 9 LA Conference Recap & Inktober Challenge Strategies  Terri Murphy will give a closer look at the recent SCBWI-LA national conference with a focus on the illustrator opportunities.  It’s the next best thing to being there!  Next, we’ll give a quick run-down on the specifics of the Inktober challenge and how to commit and make the most of it as a promotional tool.  Lastly, we’ll invite all those who participated in the Illustrator Buddy System over the summer to talk of their experience.  If you have works-in-progress for the PWID conference art contest, bring them to the critique portion of our meeting (last 30 minutes).

Oct 14 PWID “Opening Doors” Prep  Preparing a knock-out portfolio will allow you to get a foot into an “opening door” of a publisher, perhaps to be invited in.  As we focus on what you must do to rise above the crowd, we’ll also take a look at the final contest pieces for those who are participating in the PWID conference contest “Opening Doors”.

Nov 11 Guest illustrator, George Berlin, "360 illustration- take a spin" 360 illustration takes art off the page and frees you to explore an image from all angles! And it's everywhere- from Facebook to Virtual Reality headsets. Join Creative Genius George Berlin as we explore several ways to create these exciting new images and avenues to use them- from promos to alternate storytelling media. Enjoy George's work in illustration, animation, and VR at

In the second half of the meeting, we’ll invite illustrators who received a PWID portfolio review to share, as well as a last look at the illustration contest entries & winner from PWID 2107.

Dec 10 Holiday Brunch Join the festivities for an Illustrators Brunch at Terri Murphy’s house at 11am on Sunday, December 10th.  Specifics to be announced on the listserv.

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. September 9: Downstate Illinois SCBWI-IL Illustrators, Shop Talk and Critiques, 9a-Noon, Wildflour Artisan Bakery & Cafe, 256 W. Main, Decatur, IL. 

Sat. Nov 11: Downstate Illinois SCBWI-IL Illustrators, Virtual meeting (Skype.) Contact Louann Brown newlou2008 (at) for instructions.

Diversity Network

Diversity Committee Network

Susanne Fairfax 312-543-3056 (
Urania Smith (

We meet the third Wednesday of every month, 7 to 9 PM.  Stay tuned for program details for these upcoming dates:

October 18, 2017
November 15, 2017

Devember 20, 2017

University of Chicago
5733 S. University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637
Community Room

This is 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.

*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

Because of the breadth of this focus, we will be particularly conscious of the intersectionality of oppressions and identities. Allies are welcome.

 If anyone needs additional ADA support such as sign language interpreter or other resources, please email in advance.

Public Transportation info at CTA

Writers' Networks

Chicago Network


Jane Hertenstein (773) 303-4089 (
Savy Leiser (

Thursday, September 14, 7 – 9 pm

Back to School: Getting the most out of your school visit
Levi B. Fox

Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson 7 – 9 pm (arrive by 6:30 if you want a beverage)

west door if arriving after 7 pm

Levi B. Fox has written seven books (and even scratched the Amazon Top 100 best seller list). Recently he decided to concentrate on school visits. After one year he has seen more success than in the previous 12 years. He has put together a program that has him in demand in both elementary and secondary classrooms. Come hear how he uses motivation and creativity to inspire future writers.


Thursday, October 12, 7 – 9 pm

Crowdsourcing: How to use Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing sites to fund your next project

Savy Leiser

Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson 7 – 9 pm (arrive by 6:30 if you want a beverage)

west door if arriving after 7 pm

Chicago co-rep Savy Leiser, author of The Making of a Small-Town Beauty King (2016)  recently funded the first 2 books of a project called The Furever Home Friends, a series about shelter animals with accompanying plush toy where a portion of the profits benefits a shelter. Many authors and illustrators are forced to juggle projects and resources. Savy will talk about getting started, various crowdfunding sites, and, most importantly, how to promote your projects in order to get funded. @SavyLeiser,


Thursday, November 9, 7 – 9 pm

From traditional to independent publisher/ author

W. Nikola-Lisa

Everybody’s Coffee, 935 W. Wilson 7 – 9 pm (arrive by 6:30 if you want a beverage)

west door if arriving after 7 pm

Award-winning author W. Nikola-Lisa whose books have been published by Atheneum, Henry Holt, Simon & Schuster, Lee & Low, and Hyperion to name a few decided to step away from traditional publishing and forge a new path. By publishing independently he can orchestrate his own promotion and write the books he’s passionate about. Nikola-Lisa started Gyroscope Books. His latest project is Dog Eared: A Year’s Romp Through the Self-Publishing World, scheduled for release Sept. 7, 2017, where he writes about the place of physical books in an ever-increasing digital age, the impact of social media on publishing’s rapidly-changing landscape, the skill set an author needs to survive in today’s publishing world.




Chicago – Hyde Park Network

Kate Hannigan  (


How Children's Books Will Save Us: Chicago-area YA, middle-grade, and picture book authors discuss writing for young readers and cultivating future thinkers

Chicago-area children's authors weigh in about how fiction and facts have a place in our current world and national dialogue, how ideas can be exchanged rationally, and why they choose to write and engage with young people. 

In this panel discussion, we hear about how books influence young minds, about the role of good writing, and why children's authors choose to write for young readers, as well as some of the "how-tos" about landing an agent and getting published. We hope you'll come for an intimate conversation about children's literature in the cozy and always-inspiring atmosphere of 57th Street Books. Each authors' books will be available for purchase and signing!

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m.Thursday, September 28th

Where: 57th Street Books, 1301 E 57th St, Chicago, IL 60637

Please celebrate our panel of authors:

Michelle Falkoff (YA fiction): Talented author of the intriguing PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD (an NPR Great Read of 2015) and PUSHING PERFECT (2016), with more to come in QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU in 2018.

Patricia Hruby Powell (YA non-fiction): Award-winning author of the fantastic books JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER and LOVING VS. VIRGINIA. 

Suzanne Slade (picture book, non-fiction): Award-winning author of many titles, including OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO NATURE: The Anna Comstock Story and DANGEROUS JANE, the heart-pounding biography of Chicago’s own activist Jane Addams.

Natasha Tarpley (MG fiction): Author of the intriguing mystery HARLEM CHARADE and the inspiring picture books I LOVE MY HAIR.

RSVP to Kate Hannigan to help us get a head count. 

Come for the wisdom, stay for the brownies!

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.

Special Additional Program

Picture book presentation by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Date:  October 21, 2017
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

Advanced registration is required and space is limited. Program is free for SCBWI members, $3.00 for non-members.To register please e-mail Jim Danielson at:

New York Times best selling picture book author Sherri Duskey Rinker will be entertaining and enlightening us with her writing experiences. Sherri is the author of:                              STEAM TRAIN, DREAM TRAIN
BIG MACHINES (the story of Virginia Lee Burton) (Sept. 2017)

Please park in side or rear parking lot.

Northern Suburbs

Cook County (North Suburban Network)


Carolyn Crimi (
Anny Rusk ( 

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


Sept. 13th: Annual Planning Session, 7p-8:30p;

State and Main

1941 Tower Drive

Glenview, IL

In The Glen Center

Sip, sup and be heard!

Help us plan Chicago NSN events for 2018! We need your opinions, your ideas, and your connections to continue to make NSN's programming compelling and helpful to as many of you as possible!

Oct. 11th: Inside the Mind of a Kid Bookseller/Bookbuyer7-8:30pThe Book Market

2651 Navy Blvd

Glenview, IL

Holly Alexander has been in the book biz for a decade. She's been both a bookseller and a kids frontlist book buyer among other things. Currently, she's a full-time employee, wearing a few hats, at The Book Stall.

This year she is also serving on the Children's and Teens Indie Intro Committee for Winter/Spring 2018. Select indie booksellers/buyers from around the country are tapped to serve on this committee for each selling season. The committee chooses 10 titles from a group of debut authors that are then specifically recommended to indie bookstores nationwide through the American Booksellers Association via discounts and newsletters.

Those of you who already know Holly, know that's she's a virtual encyclopedia of book/publisher/customer knowledge.

In her chat she'll pull the curtain open to reveal how she analyzes trends, how she picks which books she'll buy to please her customers, and the importance of handselling, with tips on how to get on the good side of a bookseller. :-)

Finally, because she is a big supporter of our network, Holly has offered to critique one PB manuscript or the first 50 pages of an MG or YA manuscript from each person who comes to her chat.  Please include your email address on your submission. She'll email each of you individually with comments.

FYI: This is not an editorial critique. Holly will evaluate your project from the POV of a bookseller./bookbuyer She'll give you notes on what's working in your story in terms of reaching your audience, and what may hinder your book's sales down the road. 

As always we'll go across the street to State and Main to discuss, drink, and dine after the event.

Nov. 8th: Danny Kravitz on Diversity and How To Discuss Tough Topics with Kids

Author Danny Kravitz will discuss how he approaches writing about diversity, adversity, and tough topics for kids. He'll also share what he's learned from his school visits, such as how he talks about tough topics/diversity with kids and how they receive his material.  

Danny is a historical fiction and non-fiction author who infuses the stories he tells with his deep passion for events of the past.

 A professor of story-telling and screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago for more than a decade, as well as an Emmy winning writer who has worked in film, TV and print, Danny’s unique experience as both a story-teller and an impassioned educator combine to facilitate a wonderful connection to his audiences. Danny likes to write uplifting stories. Most of his characters succeed, his favorites in ways they never imagined.

As always we'll go across the street to State and Main to discuss, drink, and dine after the event.

Dec. 13th: Annual NSN Holiday Party

Location and What to bring TBD.

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 N Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville, IL 60048

September: Learn the basics of Twitter with Lisa Katzenberger, SCBWI-IL social media specialist!  She will give some tips on how to use Twitter as a networking tool and how to engage in a Twitter discussion.

October:  Critiques!  If you would like to share your work with your peers, please bring five double-spaced pages (maximum). 

November: Get creative in our interactive Writing Workshop!  Come prepared with your favorite notebook and pen or laptop and explore one of the characters in your story through written prompts. 


Far Northwest Suburbs

Far Northwest Suburban Network


Veronica Rundell (
Katie Sparks (

Open Critique
Third Wednesday of each month, 7 – 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

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. Oak Park Dole or Main Library – See dates for which branch.


September 14—Main Library, 1st floor   Community Space, behind the checkout counters—What makes a great first line or opening paragraph? As you read this summer, be aware of the opening lines that pull you into the story. Bring examples of what you feel are great openings in whatever genre you are interested in. We will discuss what makes a great beginning and then work on our own mss to be sure we grab the reader’s (i.e.—editor’s—attention from the first word.

October 12— Main Library, 1st floor Community Space, behind the checkout counters– Critique night—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.

November 9—location TBD—Lisa Katzenberger will reprise her Food For Thought Twitter presentation, with particular emphasis on how aspiring authors and illustrators can use Twitter to develop professionally.

LaGrange – Naperville Network


Fran Sammis (
Cathy Velasco,

Quarterly Meetings:

7-8 p.m. Thursday. Oct. 19th at Fountaindale Public Library, 300 W Briarcliff Rd, Bolingbrook, IL 60440.
Working with Small Presses: Bigger Isn’t Always Better. Guest Speaker: Carmela Martino

Authors and illustrators typically dream of being published by an imprint of one of the “Big 5” trade publishers. But these imprints tend to accept only agented submissions, and even those that accept unsolicited can be excruciatingly slow to respond.

As a result, many authors and illustrators are turning to small presses. Naperville author and writing teacher Carmela Martino interviewed three award-winning authors about their experiences with small presses for the 2018 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.

In this Network presentation, Carmela will share some of the highlights from that interview and discuss her own experiences publishing her new young-adult novel, Playing by Heart, with the small press Vinspire Publishing.

RSVP through Oct. 16th – at

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

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 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

Ruth Siburt  ( )
Deb Aronson  (

Programs and Shop Talks:

Stay tuned for upcoming programming


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

Kathryn Ault Noble

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

Springfield Area Network

The Scribes

Debra Daugherty (     

Upcoming Programs:

September meeting: Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 5:30 P.M., at Baker’s Square Restaurant, 3434 Freedom Drive, Springfield, IL, our first “Sweet Tooth Outing.” Enjoy pie while listening to writer Louann Brown, illustrator of How to Create Spectacular Halloween Costumes, Capstone 2011; and Jerry Barrett, writer/illustrator of the Wide Mouth Frog picture book series; Wide Mouth Frog’s Big Birthday Party, Wide Mouth Frog Goes to the Zoo, Wide Mouth Frog Goes on Vacation, and Wide Mouth Frog Starts Kindergarten, Sunny Crest Press, do a program on “Illustrating for Picture Books.”  All are welcome to join us.

October meeting: Monday, October 2, 2017, 5:30-7:45 P.M., at Chatham Library, 600 E. Spruce, Chatham, IL. Jerry Barrett, author/illustrator of the Wide Mouth Frog picture book series, and Pam Stone, author of Oscar’s Adventures in the Woods, and The Watermelon Party, Tate Publishing, will give a program on “How to Arrange and Do Book Signings.”  Critiques of pages after program. All are welcome.

November meeting: Monday, November 6, 2017, 5:30 – 7:45 P.M., at Chatham Library in Chatham, IL, Guest speaker and author of My Golden Heart: Putting the Pieces Back Together Again, Sharron Magyar, will give a program titled: “From Safe Writing to Unexpected Ideas.” All are welcome.

Also at the November meeting, Juli Caveny, represented by Ezri Deak of Hen and Ink Literary, will do a program on agents; “Questions to ask an agent when offered representation and before signing the contract.” If there is not time for Juli’s program, it will be postponed until 2018.

Questions or for directions, contact Debra Daugherty at

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.